Smart home technology seems to be about making routine tasks simple and effort free. It’s most appealing to people who are among the most tech savvy, young and engaged with what’s happening on the electronics front. They earn enough money to be able to afford home automation and the devices that are needed to seamlessly integrate Smart tech into their routines. That mundane, boring tasks are taken care of without a second thought. But what about the people whose need is greater? Those who wish to ‘Age in Place’? Or those with disabilities or other lifestyle limiting problems whose lack of engagement with the latest trends in home technology. Not being into tech means that they’re unlikely to hear about the advancements which are taking place, and least likely to appreciate how those innovations are going to help them with their daily lives?
Smart home technology is all about outsourcing routine tasks to a device or app which can do it for you, so it’s perfect for people with disabilities, loss of fine motor controls, dementia, injuries, and mobility problems. However, in the ads we see for Connected Devices we, so far, have only seen the fun side of home automation with happy smiling families enjoying an active lifestyle which Alexa or Google simply add to. How long until we see a wheelchair user or someone with life affecting injuries using their Smart devices to do things which are awkward, or impossible for them to do without help enjoying the benefits that these technologies bring?
Able bodied people often overlook the things which people with disabilities see as problematic, because that’s the fun part about being able bodied, you get to do stuff unimpeded. People who need a wheelchair to get around don’t always get to just switch a light on because the switch could be too high, or plug their phone or laptop into the wall because the socket is too low down and behind a table which they can’t reach behind. And when an able bodied person gets too warm in summer it’s easy to throw open the window, but what if you’re bed bound? Don’t you get to have a breath of fresh air too?
So what Smart home devices are there which particularly benefit people for whom getting up and dashing about are not on their daily routine?
You still want your carers to be able to get in, even if you’re letting home automation take care of many of your needs. Smart door controls let you see on your phone, TV or computer who is calling at the door and lets you talk to them or let them in too. If you’re vision impaired their facial recognition can tell you who it is, and you can add or remove people for whom you give access. That means your friends, family and carers can just walk right in, but anyone else has to buzz and wait.
CCTV cameras also let you see who’s coming up to your door, but let you see if they’re prowling around the garden or looking in your garage or shed too. They will alert you in real time to anyone on your property, and many allow you to speak to the person and hear what they say back to you too. Footage of people that the CCTV captures can be recorded in the cloud and stored to be used in evidence in case of a break-in too.
Smoke, fire, flood and carbon monoxide alarms all sound in the normal way when a problem is detected, but Smart alarms do more than that. They will tell you in a Push message to your phone or computer where the problem is, and what it is. Because they’re smart they can trigger other related devices to activate too, such as turning the lights on, unlocking doors and alerting family or custodians to a problem as well.
Smart thermostats, air conditioning and lighting controls take the getting up and going to the switch to turn things up and down out of the equation. Instead temperature and lighting, including the brightness and even colour of light can easily be controlled from an app on your phone or by voice command. You can even control which rooms get hot and which stay cool from your phone without having to go into each room and adjusting the valve on the radiators, which is handy if you can’t bend of have poor grip.
Window Blinds And Shutters
Windows and blinds have been smart enabled too, so you can automatically close the blinds when sensors detect bright sunlight or you can tell them to close when you want privacy from neighbours. Equally you can tell the windows to open if you’re getting too hot and want some fresh air. If you’re on the ground floor then this technology can be applied to security shutters too. Simply link the controls to your alarms and anyone breaking in will get a surprise, and if there’s an emergency indoors the shutters can withdraw, making access for the emergency services easier.
Smart home alarms and sensors don’t just monitor your home, you can use them to monitor you too. Cameras can be used to trigger alerts when things don’t happen too, so for example, you haven’t got up and made breakfast an alert can be sent to a carer to call and check you’re ok. These work very well alongside personal alarms which come in the form of a fob which can be worn on the neck or around the wrist. They detect a range of vital signs and also detect a fall or jolt which be indicative of an accident.
There are even smart beds, with mattresses which monitor heat, movement and other indicators which help you stay comfortable. They monitor your sleep patterns and do everything they can to keep you comfortable, and can even gently wake you without the need for alarms each morning.
Medication Reminders And Pill Dispensers
Pill reminding devices aren’t a new idea, but Smart pill reminders not only give you reminders via your phone, or announcement over the home audio system. They’re tamper proof, and contain around a month’s pills. The device tells you which pills to take, when, and will let carers or medial staff know if you miss taking your medication. Additional apps are available which can automate your repeat prescription. It can remind you which pill to take and when.
As well as medication, food is an easy thing to forget to buy, or put off buying because of mobility problems, meaning that an easily confused older person or someone who has trouble getting out of the house can easily find themselves with empty cupboards. For those who want to age in place, mobility is often the most difficult problem. Shopping apps and smart home automation devices solve this problem by automatically re-ordering food items. Simply attach a barcode reader to the bin and you can scan the barcode of every package you throw away. The app will then add each item thrown away to a shopping list which can be printed, sent to the phone of someone who shops for you, or simply sent to the supermarket’s online ordering platform for delivery.
Smart Ovens And Cookers
Then, once that food has been delivered Smart technology can help you cook it. That doesn’t mean simply downloading recipes, although you can do that; Smart ovens can help you by setting the temperature and timer for a joint. Just tell the cooker what you’re cooking, the weight and it will adjust the settings accordingly. If you’re baking a cake you can set the timer, or let the onboard camera watch and turn the oven off when it reaches the perfect colour.
Any and all of these Smart Home Automation innovations can be sourced, supplied and fitted by Briant Communications. Get in touch via our Contact Us page, or call on 01273 465377 to book a consultation.