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She’s informative, helpful, entertaining, and engaging. Known by the general public as “Alexa,” the Friendship Village version of the voice-activated technology named Echo has now been successfully installed in approximately 450 residents’ apartments at the Schaumburg senior living community. Friendship Village’s InfoMate program, which brings the personal voice assistant to the community, is being enthusiastically utilized in many different capacities.
Resident Craig Foster, who serves as the chairman of Friendship Village’s tech committee, is one of several residents who has taken the lead on helping advocate for Echo’s usage. “We spent some time playing with the technology so that we could be familiar with how it can be used,” he said. Its primary function is to integrate with CareMerge, Friendship Village’s resident portal, which provides contact information for residents and staff, a listing of programs and activities, daily menu options, and more. “So many things that they want or need to know is easily accessible to the residents,” Foster said, adding that ultimately, Echo will cut down on paper used for disseminating information.
Foster has also developed a list of dozens of tasks and tricks that Echo can perform, including telling stories, sharing jokes, singing, predicting the weather, and more…so much more. “Having an Echo is like having access to a lot of information and a little bit of companionship,” Foster said. “Additionally, Echo can serve important functions such as medication reminders and alerts.” The depth and breadth of Echo at Friendship Village are expected to evolve and grow.
“The organization is committed to integrating technology in many different ways into our operations, including in lifestyles and fitness, dining services, and medical records,” said Jill Steco, lifestyles director for Friendship Village. “Much of it is fun and entertaining, but it also serves important functions for optimizing our residents’ engagement, safety, and independence. Our residents enjoy and benefit from technology.”