Smart Home, equipped with electronic appliances that can be controlled remotely, has been marketed as the house of the future. This trend will help everyone including seniors and persons with disabilities. A few years ago, when I was looking for inexpensive remote control systems, there were not many products readily available. Assistive technology companies were selling environmental control devices, which they sold anywhere from $600 to $6500 and possibly more. Besides, I found some of them were difficult for the users and their family members to configure and learn. The cost of smart homes can be difficult to obtain because insurance companies may not currently cover the cost of smart home technology.
However, today, you can find environmental control units at hardware stores or online. For example, some elderly persons or wheelchair users may not be able to easily turn on and off lights because light switches are beyond their reach. Then, you can use a product like ConnectSense by Connect Grid. The technology (i.e. X10) has been on the market for many years, but the updated smart types can now be operated from apps on Smartphones. If you are looking for more features, most basic kits start from $100, and you can expand your home automation options later depending upon your needs. These products are easy to install and include notifications or alerts to your Smartphone even when you are away from home if you have Internet wireless connectivity in the home.
- Secure your home with or without monthly cost
- Receive notifications when people, pets, and cars come and go
- Flood prevention
- Remotely adjust the thermostat to save energy
- Lock and unlock doors
- Control and monitor your home from your smartphone or tablet, anywhere in the world
- Schedule lights to turn on and off at sunrise, sunset or any time of your choosing
- Detect leaks and motion and even monitor doors and windows
- Get immediate alerts by text messages or e-mail
- Receive text message and email
- See and control your WiFi camera from your smartphone
You can buy a specific product you are interested in or buy their basic starter kit and add-on more later. You can review some product comparisons from this link: click here.
Smart Home options have been expanded to a few service sectors as well. For example, AT&T and Comcast have started working on developing products to protect and monitor the elderly from dangerous falls (EverThere–AT&T) or help disabled persons to access and control their services (Talking TV guide – Comcast).
Challenges to house automation still exist. For example, signal strength issues can lead to distance limitations. Protecting privacy and cyber-security are other issues. However, this new wave of house automation is becoming affordable and getting easier for anyone to implement at home. These products may still not cover all of the needs for individuals with disabilities or may not be compatible with all assistive technology devices (i.e. AAC), but the future “Jetsons” home is nearly here!