Introducing our first Smart Home - Apartment 360: the Retirement Community of the Future
At Royal Oaks, we're dedicated to creating the retirement community of the future. We've immersed ourselves in investigating which smart devices would be advantageous for our residents, and are this fall will be unveiling a fully equipped Smart Home Apartment 360!
What a world we live in! At the swipe of your finger on a smart phone or tablet or the click of a mouse, you can do so many things to make your life easier. Don't want to drive? Order an Uber or Lyft and you are on your way within minutes. Transferring money or depositing a check from the comfort of your home is now commonplace—it's amazing how our banking systems have simplified things using smart devices.
Driverless cars are already on the road—and in fact, a company that is putting driverless cars in communities like ours is coming to Royal Oaks in October to see if we want to be the first Arizona retirement community to use these vehicles. If it works out, residents who seldom drive can ditch their own vehicle and related expenses and use the driverless cars on a per-diem basis.
In Apartment 360 at Royal Oaks, all kinds of voice-activated gadgets and personal robots that are becoming more and more common will be showcased for current and future residents to decide if those tech devices would be useful for them. The home will include, among other things, recessed TVs that are voice activated and touch panels designed to display the status of lights, thermostats, and A/V equipment, for example, and launch voice commands to these devices. You'll even be able to raise and lower the window blinds by your voice. . . or by your smart phone, if you aren't at home!
The beauty behind a smart home is the unification of products that all work together as one well-oiled machine. We have discovered that the seamlessness of operation requires a substantial amount of coordination and cooperation among the manufacturers of each component that comprises a complete system, and therefore have hired a tech consultant to lead this charge. Lights need to be able to talk to security systems, which also need to talk to thermostats, which communicate with motorized draperies, which trigger A/V equipment, and so on. A Grand Opening will be held when this ultimate smart apartment is unveiled this fall.
Show it off
Already, many of our residents have installed one of the most useful tech gadgets that can also play a role in personal security--the line of Amazon "personal assistant" products commonly called Alexa (Echo, Dot, or Show are different versions of Alexa that all do basically the same thing). For less than $100 for the Echo or Dot and about $130 for the Show (it has a screen that hearing-impaired people find useful), Alexa can be a fun and valuable friend to you. Here are some of the ways our current residents have found Alexa helpful:
When Carol Pierick fell and hurt her hip in their home here, husband Ken simply said, "Alexa, call Security." Within minutes, without Ken having to remember a phone number or pick up a phone, our Security personnel were at his disposal. If you have a smart phone, this functionality can be set up in minutes if you have an Alexa. You can voice-activate a call to anyone in your smart phone's list of contacts using Alexa.
Marie Brannon uses Alexa as her personal assistant. "I ask Alexa for help with all kinds of things," said Marie. "She spells words for me, tells me celebrities' ages, can give me the temperature anywhere, plays any music I want, and even tells me jokes. I'm finding new things she can do every day. I really like having a flash briefing of the news whenever I ask her for it. It keeps me current with what's happening without having to hunt down a newspaper or find a news station I like. Plus, it's just a fun thing to use."
"When I'm cooking at home and realize I'm out of supplies, I just say Alexa, add olive oil to my shopping list," said Janice Daniel. "When I go to the grocery, I pull up the Alexa shopping list on my phone and all the things I need are there."
Many residents have gone a step further and installed the Amazon/Alexa smart plugs in their lamps at home, which then allows them to turn them off and on by voice command.
Get on board
The Alexa Show is now being provided to all new residents who move in. This version has a Skype-like feature: the resident can video-chat with friends and family members using the Show and the other parties' cell phone, allowing more communication in a fun way with people not so close in proximity. In addition to reading the news, for example, the Show's screen also spells out what is being said, helpful for the hearing-impaired.
As long as you have an Internet connection in your home, Alexa can move in! Or move into Royal Oaks, you'll get one in your Welcome Basket, and our Computer Club Help Squad will install it for you. To find out more about becoming a resident, call 623-815-4132.