Efforts in the smart home industry are mostly geared towards making things remotely accessible and manageable for homeowners so they can save on utility bills and monitor for adverse activity, but the technology being put into smart homes can also help those with disabilities to live a fairly normal life.
Smart homes for wounded veterans
The Gary Sinise Foundation and the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, under the initiative Building for America’s Bravest, raised money to build a smart home custom for Ben Tomlinson, a Marine wounded in Afghanistan who is now a paraplegic. The groundbreaking for this smart home was recently held in Jacksonville, Alabama and supporters have rallied to build a home which features iPad and iPhone-operated lighting and appliances.
“I’ve been involved with kind of designing the floor plan and everything. But they kind of kept the final thing at bay so they could kind of surprise me a little bit. But like I always say, I feel spoiled by these guys,” Tomlinson said.
This isn’t the first time The Gary Sinise Foundation and the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation worked together to help war veterans. Last year, the two held a benefit concert to raise money to build smart homes for triple amputee veterans Army Master Sgt. John Masson and Staff Sgt. Thomas Howard McRae.
Gary Sinise is an actor who played amputee Lt. Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump, and used this experience as an inspiration to help defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need get back on their feet.
Smart solutions for homes
Not all smart solutions need to be connected to the internet or be controlled by your mobile devices. Sometimes, even a normal remote would suffice as long as it gets the job done. Closets are normal home fixtures but the problem with them is that the bars where you hang your clothes are usually fixed way up, making it difficult for the wheelchair-bound to reach items.
At the recently held Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and International Builders’ Show, brands demonstrated how homes can be adapted to a person’s needs, like Häfele’s new remote controlled wardrobe system. With a push of a button, the closet bar descends down several feet. The user can control the height of the bar that is comfortable for them to use so they won’t have to exert too much effort in hanging up clothes or taking clothes down.
Another advancement worth mentioning is Promixis Environment Automation Controller, a technology aimed at people with limited mobility or have physical disabilities. It allows the users to feel a sense of independence, as the technology gives them the ability to perform everyday tasks on their own.
PEAC is a server-based environment controller which can be installed in the person’s home or even in hospitals, special homes or other facilities. Users can connect to PEAC using browsers such as Firefox, Chrome or Safari and use their mobile devices to manipulate their environment. Even if the Internet goes out, users will still be able to connect to PEAC as the server is installed and maintained in the home, building, or facility.
These are just some solutions that address the needs of people with disabilities. As more companies focus on turning homes into smart ones, we can expect more meaningful innovations for people with special needs.