How 'Voice Assistants' Could Be Helpful During A Pandemic

Like many of you for a long time I was a skeptic when it came to purchasing any kind of smart voice speakers. So I kept going back and forth. What I really wanted was a way to be able to play music and access information from my kitchen or living room hands free in case I was in the middle of cooking or cleaning.

I mentioned it a few times to my family for sometime, and last Christmas my daughter gifted me the echo dot 'Alexa' voice assistant from Amazon. And let me tell you, it's been quite the entertainment. Comes in handy in so many ways and for so many reasons. I'm hardly the skeptic now.

And also why I'm here to share some of the ways during this quarantine due to the pandemic that 'Alexa' or any smart voice speaker can come to the rescue and help save your family and your sanity!

Alexa Smart Home

Voice assistants can connect to games, streaming platforms and to the internet: This is the perfect time to ask Alexa or Google to suggest new games to play, shows to watch and home activities to try.

For those hoping to stay informed of the pandemic's progress, curated news -- from silly videos to serious updates. Smart speakers can play audio and smart displays can play video, and we could all stay a little more informed without being glued to our phones all day.

Alexa recently added this feature: Just ask "What's the latest with the corona-virus," and the voice assistant will share an update or play video clips from trustworthy news outlets on your smart device.

Cultivate Community Connections
Many cities have Alexa skills that keep communities aware of the local news. Teaming up with city officials to offer programming for city-specific skills could help communities stay on top of local developments.

Reduce Surface Contact
This is something voice assistants can already help with, if you get the right devices. Voice commands mean you don't have to touch places that get heavy traffic during the day -- light switches, locks, remotes and phones. If you're trying to minimize the spread of germs, smart home control is one clever way to do it.

Offer a Hand-washing Countdown
It seems simplistic, but now would be the perfect time for a kid-friendly hand-washing timer. 
Forcing my kids to scrub their mitts for 20 seconds is a fight every time, but a counter-top countdown with fun sound effects or music could be exactly what many parents need. Google and Amazon could implement something like that easily.

Google also has added recent updated features: Just say, "Help me wash my hands," and Google will set a 40-second timer and sing a song your kids may love (but you'll probably hate).

Prompt Voice Calls
Another feature already in place and waiting to be used more: voice calls and messages. Sending quick voice calls and leaving brief messages using a smart speaker is a great way to stay connected with friends and family even if you're keeping isolated at the moment. Many users don't often use the already-existing feature, though, and Amazon and Google might benefit from prompting some of these calls to keep customers connected.

Voice assistants are the help we need right now, and they're already helping in all the ways we expect. 

Here's hoping they keep developing over the coming weeks and months so our quarantines can be a little more bearable.


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