Technology for Independent Living

amazon echoAMAZON ECHO AS A PERSONAL ASSISTANT

The Amazon Echo is a sleek black cylinder, just over nine inches tall and three inches wide, that marries the radio on your nightstand or kitchen counter with the Internet. It functions like a voice-activated iPod, but it has speakers instead of headphones, microphones that detect spoken commands even across a large room, and a clear, Siri-like voice that can answer basic questions like what the weather is, traffic reports, set alarms for you, give you news briefings from NPR, the BBC, the Economist, and other outlets, compile to-do and shopping lists, define and spell words and suggest synonyms for them, set a timer or alarm, respond to certain basic reference inquiries, tell jokes (most of which are pretty lame), and other fun stuff.

Echo makes a nice, low-cost sound system for a small apartment because it’s connected to the cloud, and can play songs from your Amazon Prime Library or Prime Stations, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and online radio stations as well as music from your phone or tablet, Spotify, Pandora, and other services. Streamed audiobooks are available from Audible, too.

It’s not a personal assistance like Siri, it’s different. It fills the niche at home competently. It’s a good device at $200, but a steal at $99.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 3.05.01 PMCool Gadget to Assist with Reading

Arthritis, or any hand pain, can be very limiting. Comfortable reading anywhere with the Peeramid Bookrest. Inspired by the Great Pyramids, this uniquely shaped pillow with bookmark props a book or Kindle at the perfect angle for reading. Use it in bed, at a table, your favorite chair, on the floor, virtually anywhere. Simply placing the spine of your book into the ledge of the Peeramid allows readers a free hand to take notes, snack and truly relax. Micro fiber fabric resists staining.

$22.00 from Amazon