Call for Help – say “Hey, Siri” or “Ok, Google” with your Smartphone

For seniors at home, you may worry about how to call for help when no one is home.  For example, if you have a fall at home and you need to call someone to help you, the first thought is to reach for your landline phone.  But what if you are unable to reach the phone or if you forgot the phone number of your family member to call?  That’s where your smartphone can be a real life saver.

Today’s smartphone is capable of voice activation.  If you are using an Apple iPhone, the wake word is “Hey, Siri” and if you are using Google’s Android phones, it is “Ok, Google”.  If you can utter these key wake words, you can probably call for help if your smartphone is close enough to hear you – even if you cannot reach for it.

After you call out the wake word, the next step is to say “Call Patricia Jones” for example.  If Patricia Jones’ phone number is in your phone contacts, it will automatically call her on your smartphone and once connected, you will be on speakerphone and should be able to converse with Patricia.  There is no need remember or dial any numbers as long as the name and phone number is in the contacts.  This little tech innovation, if turned on, can provide added safety.  Of course, you need to test it to make sure that it actually finds the right phone number to call.

There are a few minor tech details that you need to be aware of.  Normally, your smartphone is locked and requires some kind of password or biometrics (like fingerprint or facial recognition) to unlock.  Unless your phone is unlocked, it will normally not allow any calls to be made.  There are a few ways around that.

  • Allow your phone to unlock via your voice is a security option for most phones – you will be asked to “train” the smartphone to recognise your voice.  The smartphone will remember your voice print and unlock the phone at your command and allow the call to go through.
  • Some smartphone can be programmed to automatically unlocked once it detects it is in a specific location.  You can program your smartphone to unlock when you are at home, for example.  By doing this, your smartphone will remain unlocked once you are at or near your home.

If you have a smartphone, get someone to help you set this up and practice it every once in a while.  Of course, this will only work if you can speak clearly for the phone to get your command.  Do a simple drill so that you will know how your smartphone reacts to your voice command.  This can save your life!

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