Technology that is exclusive for the tech-savvy is not being put to good use. Fortunately, the Smart-Home technology has evolved such that it can benefit the not so tech-savvy as well. This blog explores how the elderly and differently-abled can harness the benefits of a Smart-Home solution to assist in their daily life. Elderly and differently-abled may have physical conditions that prevent them from doing everything all by themselves. There may be a need for caregivers to monitor the activities of the elderly, remind them of their medication times.
Smart-Home solutions coupled with either of the Google Home or Amazon Echo Voice Assistants can help accomplish these goals without costing the moon. We recommend a Smart-Home system with an automation hub along with sensors and devices as detailed below. The advantage of using a hub is that users can manage the entire system from a single mobile App as opposed to the WiFi devices that require many Apps. This also enables the system to send alerts directly to the user device through the App.
Using smart sockets and smart switches On/Off control of lights and appliances can be managed. Common area lights can be programmed to turn On/Off at particular times or in synch with sunset/sunrise times. With Door-Window sensors and PIR or Motion sensors at appropriate places, night lamps, lights in bathrooms can be set up to turn On/Off in response to the opening of doors or motion. The use of dimmable LED lamps with dimmer switches or dimmer sockets facilitates brightness adjustment to suit the comfort level of room occupants. RGBW Lamps give a choice of colors, in addition to brightness.
Smoke sensors along with CO2 sensors added to the hub gives protection against fire. The system can be set up to send alerts directly to mobile devices of caregivers for a timely response while sounding a local alarm. Air quality is a key factor that determines the health of the elderly and can be monitored through sensors for CO2, Particulate Matter(PM) and Humidity. A high level of CO2 is a prompt to let some fresh air in and low humidity indicates dryness of the air. An automated routine can be set up to turn On the humidifier connected to a smart socket whenever the humidity goes below a certain desired level. Monitoring PM in the air protects those who are sensitive to dust and prone to allergic reactions.
Interfacing the Smart-Home hub with Google Home’s Google Assistant or Amazon Echo’s Alexa opens up the option of controlling the connected lights and appliances through voice commands. Particularly the elderly, differently-abled and not so tech-savvy will be able to harness the benefits of a Smart-Home without having to grope with mobile devices. There could be times when the elderly need emergency medical help or they may have difficulty making telephone calls. Panic Buttons or Hands-Free Calling devices that can be integrated into the Smart-Home system are available using which the elderly can seek help without going through the hassle of making telephone calls. Wearables such as Pendants and Wrist Bands with one-touch calling and location tracking are other available options.
Additionally, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant can be set up to send text messages or make calls to caregivers through voice commands. The Voice Assistants can also be scheduled to give verbal reminders at pre-determined times to take medications or any other reminders. Cameras can also be added to the Smart-Home hub but infringement of privacy is an issue that needs to be weighed before a decision is taken. SofiHUB is a dedicated solution that I have come across specifically designed for the differently abled and those requiring assisted living. They have some well thought out features and consists of a Hub with sensors distributed around the home that monitors, reminds and messages caregivers and immediate family if movements are not detected or if there is no response within a given time interval. The solution includes the SofiBeacon, a device that can be worn around the neck that serves as a one-touch emergency call, two way communication device with a location service so the care givers know exact location where the person is on a real time basis.
Most Smart-Home solutions are scalable; in the sense, one can make a beginning with a hub and some devices; as comfort level increases more devices could be added later. We encourage you to explore, experiment for your own use or for someone you care for. If you need additional information or assistance don’t hesitate to reach us. We would also like to hear your feedback and experiences with Smart-Home solutions and devices.