Summoning Help With Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home and Microsoft’s Cortana Devices….
© 2017 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Last year I featured Amazon’s “ALEXA” a/k/a “ECHO” in my March column. http://www.goo.gl/TFX7GF Since then many similar devices such as Google’s “Home” and Microsoft’s “Cortana” have appeared in the market place. While all these devices offer many neat features, none actually summon help. Amazon’s “Echo Connect” will be available later this year in the U. S. A., UK and Germany, as an optional, one-time, cost. Since it interfaces with your landline, if you still have one, it could call 911 or other emergency service by turning your ECHO device into a speakerphone that lets you make land-based phone calls by just using your voice.
Ask My Buddy is an app that is loaded into your ALEXA (ECHO), HOME or CORTANA device. It’s a free service, with optional upgrades that connects a user to their personal alert network by voice commands that are recognized by any of the three devices listed above. The free version is designed for use by all registered users and is especially a favorite of senior and mobility challenged individuals. It’s not a replacement for calling 911, but rather a tool for those people trying to maintain their independence, offering the security of knowing help is just a shout away. Accidents do happen and in many cases summoning help can be a difficult thing for anyone.
Ask My Buddy is the brainchild of Pat and Sheryl Coggins. They recognized the need for a service that would interact with these devices when emergency help is needed. In an effort to make this available to the masses they offer it in a free version as well as two enhanced ones. The FREE version gives you a 5 contact list and 10 combined alerts per month. For $3.66 per month you can have 120 alerts per month, 5 additional contacts as well as a multi-lingual feature. Multi-lingual alerts offered are German, Spanish, French, Swedish, Portuguese and Italian with more under consideration. For $5 per month you qualify for all of the above with up to 400 alerts per month in addition to even more upgrades. Both versions allow you to ask your buddy for help by simply stating the request in the following manner. I’m using Amazon’s “Alexa” for these examples, but you would use HOME or CORTANA if that’s the device you have: “Alexa, ask my buddy to send help” ~ This will send an alert to all of your pre-registered contacts and tell them you are in need of help and that they should contact you. “Alexa, ask my buddy to alert Bob” ~ an alert will be sent to your friend Bob who is on your pre-registered list. When you initially set up your contact list you can select how each contact is to be contacted be it text, email, by phone or any combination of the three methods. International calls are possible.
(TIP: Notify your pre-registered contacts that you’ve listed them on this service and explain how it works. It’s important to advise them that an unknown number in West Palm Beach would be notifying them so not to disregard or consider it a robo call or spam. The same would hold true for email and text notifications. You would be well advised to ask each contact to create an address book entry for the West Palm Beach ASK MY BUDDY phone number, 561.231.5676, and text number, 888.734.0751, and label it something like “Ask My Buddy Mom”. This way your caller ID will clearly identify what’s up when an alert comes in. Please be aware that these numbers can change in the event of an outage and that they do not accept incoming calls. As previously explained, the notification method is pre-determined by you in the initial contact set-up process.)
There is no question that this is a most needed service for all of us, at little or no cost. Hats off to the Coggins’ family for providing and maintaining a life-saving app. At present they are supporting a user base of over 100,000, so your contributions by selecting the upgraded versions would go a long way to supporting the service, which obviously has some operating expenses for the Coggins.
Ask My Buddy is now also available at the Alexa UK store.
GADGETEER’s RATING: ★★★★★
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Graphic credits: Ask My Buddy
Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products and press releases at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.