10 Insights from Ofcom’s: The Benefits of Smart Devices to Senior Living

Kate Sweet

Marketing Executive

In Autumn 2022 Community Research carried out research with the public on behalf of Ofcom to explore people’s use of and attitudes toward smart speakers. 

Participants were asked to record in a diary their daily uses of Smart Speakers, which inevitably led to a huge variation in how and how much people use their devices. Generally, participants’ use of their smart speakers can be categorized into the provision of content, for instance, music, radio, and news; organizing the household, through reminders and alarms; controlling smart features, for example turning on the lights; and communication, namely for calls and messages. 

So, from Ofcom’s, we’ve pulled together 10 key insights that we think are relevant to senior living, please read on.


1.Three types of smart speaker users

Smart speaker users generally fell into three categories: those who saw it as ‘just a speaker’, using it largely for radio/music; those for whom it was ‘a speaker with added fun and functions’; and those for whom smart speakers were ‘a control hub’ who depended on their speakers for their daily routines and household management.

The use of smart speakers for senior living would make elderly people fall into the final category, who would use them as facilitative tools for a variety of functions which will now be explored. 


2. Smart speakers are easier than other forms of technology

Smart Speakers might be considered as an alternative to other technology devices: in comparison to other forms of technology, smart speakers are easier to understand. 

Where elderly people can find new technology challenging, smart speakers, with the human voice factor, are somewhat humanized, and allow elderly people to access information more easily. For instance, an elderly person can find out weather reports or the time without the hassle or stress that might come with phones or tablets. I.e., it is far easier to ask a smart speaker ‘will it rain today?’, rather than going through the process of unlocking a phone, searching for an app, and making sense of the information they see.  



3. Where some participants recognize smart devices as ‘tools’, or ‘servants’, others view them as ‘companions

For example, smart speakers can help those who live alone to feel less lonely. It strikes a chord that where, many elderly people live alone and are visited irregularly by family, smart speakers provide an alternative, extra way to improve an elderly person’s day.  

One participant attested to this: ‘Living alone, it’s like having a friend in the house.’ 


4. Regaining independence

Evidently, a smart speaker has the ability to carry out tasks for seniors, but that in turn, comes with other positives for the elderly: the ability to retain their independence as they get older. 

‘From my overarching software for controlling my environmental controls around the home (lights, phone, etcetera) to voice command, and everything in between, it is vital for someone like myself and many others in the disability community…to maintain their overarching independence…thus maintaining a sense of purpose.’  

The feeling of control and autonomy is taken away from a, whether by being moved into a care home or just by an elderly person whether that be by being moved into a care home, or even just through increasing disability as they grow older. Smart speakers grant elderly people more independence and allow them to not feel like they are continuously asking for help from others. 


5. Smart speakers as mobility-aids

It was noted that some participants found their speakers were beneficial regarding physical issues. 

For instance, a user can change radio stations without the need to move: ‘It’s silly things like my computer is on the other side of the room, or even upstairs, and I need to access information quickly, I just ask Alexa’  


6. Visual impairment issues resolved! 

Without the need to put on glasses, or for those with limited eyesight, seniors can access information far easier. 

One such senior commented: ‘Since I volunteered for this research, I have been diagnosed with macular degeneration […] I now have a very strong motivation to find out how to use verbal aids such as Alexa’  




7. Smart speakers as reminders

The reminder function of smart speakers is ideal for seniors. Participants commented on the use of smart devices to keep track of things like appointments and shopping requirements. Once adjusted to using smart devices, seniors would benefit from having reminders, even for simple things such as: ‘What is on my shopping list? 


8. Smart speakers offer home security for seniors

Whether it be an elderly person’s family or themselves, smart speakers can be linked to security cameras, for ease of mind and for safety.  

According to this report, a small number of participants linked their smart speakers to security cameras, which alerted one participant to a burglary: ‘Interestingly my smart speaker alerted me to a burglar at my door last night who I was able to chase away before calling the police’.


9. As devices go, smart speakers are typically very easy to set up, and once set up, the devices can be left alone

For seniors, this ease, combined with the device’s simple settings are ideal. One participant remarked: ‘No idea [about settings]! It’s plugged in and it works, that’s about all I know I’m afraid!’  

Another noted: ‘I think the whole process, even downloading the app, you just download the app, then you connect it to Bluetooth, and you just put it in and just really it was so easy…’ 


10.There was a general consensus that smart speakers are a force for good and could make a substantial positive difference to people’s lives

Many participants identified ways in which they thought wider take-up of smart speakers could help certain disadvantaged groups in society, and in this case, elderly people. 

Evidently, smart speakers can be used in a variety of ways, many of which make them perfect for senior living.  


All images and insights were sourced from the Smart Speaker Research with the Public 2022 report by Community Research.

If you are interested in learning how you could implement Alexa Smart properties in your care home, read more about our services here or reach out to our team here to discuss your requirements. 

Kate Sweet

Marketing Executive