Of all the thousands of commands the Amazon Echo (or Google Home) understands, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” isn’t one of them. Neither is “Emergency! Send help!”
Which is strange! You’ve got a machine that can hear you from across the room, always listening, and plugged into the Internet. You’d feel a lot better about your elderly parent living alone if you knew there was an Echo there to send help in case of an accident.
There’s nothing built-in like that. But AskMyBuddy.net offers a free “skill” (a new bit of vocabulary for your Echo or Google Home) that, once set up, lets you say, “Ask my buddy to send help!”
Instantly, your home voice assistant sends a text and makes a phone call to anyone whose number you’ve supplied in advance. (You can also say, “Ask My Buddy to call Jordan” or “Alexa, Ask My Buddy to alert the family” or “Ask My Buddy to alert everyone.”)
The requirement to say that goofy “Ask My Buddy” thing isn’t quite intuitive, especially for an 80-year-old who’s still getting used to the concept of Alexa in the first place. So it’s probably a good idea to put the magic command on a card or a sticker—or a couple—and slap them up around the house as a constant reminder.
Adapted from “Pogue’s Basics: Tech.” David Pogue, tech columnist for Yahoo Finance, welcomes non-toxic comments in the Comments below. On the Web, he’s davidpogue.com. On Twitter, he’s @pogue. On email, he’s email@example.com. You can read all his articles here (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/david-pogue/), or you can sign up to get his columns by email (http://j.mp/P4Qgnh).