In an increasingly technological world, there are numerous ways in which smart homes and the devices inside them are making the lives of people with disabilities more comfortable and convenient.
Not only can smart devices be easily installed by the user or their carers, but they can also empower the users to lead happy, independent lives, without having to depend on external help.
Here are some of the ways in which smart homes are helping people with disabilities.
1. Smart Homes Offer Increased Convenience
Convenience and ease of use are the primary benefits that smart homes promise to deliver. Although smart devices are a luxury for the majority of people, they are a necessity for some.
For users who have to depend on other people due to physical immobility, visual impairment, or any chronic illness, smart home devices have been a game-changer. A smart home system offers complete control to the user, all from the palm of their hand.
Voice-controlled gadgets, appliances, and home operating systems that can be handled through a single smartphone have made everyday life much easier and more convenient for people living with disabilities.
2. Smart Homes Provide Enhanced Security
Smart security systems and surveillance devices are highly essential for people with disabilities, as they bring great peace of mind and a sense of safety to them as well as their families and loved ones.
For example, smart doors provide alternative cues to a visually impaired person to know if their front door has been opened or if home security has been compromised in any way.
Smart Locks and Smart Doors
Smart locks and smart doors are an alternative to traditional keys or keypads used to ensure home security. These come in handy while giving access to housekeepers, caretakers, nurses, or therapists for bedridden people or those who struggle with physical immobility.
These are accessible through your smartphone, with admin access which also enables you to grant guest access and even limit the number of times someone can access your home during the day. These applications also keep a log of who has entered your house.
For people struggling with dementia or Alzheimer's, smart doors and smart locks can come in handy. This is because they do not lock you out of your house, and can monitor if someone leaves or enters, keeping family members updated in case of any emergency.
There is always a way to open these locks even if the battery runs out or the internet connection goes out, which ensures that users never have to worry about leaving their house unattended.
Plumbing or pipe leaks are often not detectable until the damage has become quite widespread. Especially for the disabled and cognitively impaired, detecting leaks can be difficult.
Leak sensors detect a leak and notify you on your device, acting as a preventive device and helping people with disabilities ensure that their homes are well-maintained.
3. Smart Homes Enable Remote Control Over Everyday Functions
The majority of smart devices and gadgets are remotely controllable. They can either be controlled by your smartphone or a dedicated remote control.
The best part about smart devices is that they can be controlled even when you are away from your home. Along with smart doors and smart locks, smart lighting solutions are remotely controllable as well.
Similar to other smart devices, smart lighting devices are remotely controllable. In addition, many types of smart lighting systems are connected to motion sensors which makes it very easy for people with restricted mobility to turn lights on and off.
Smart lighting devices enabled with sensors can also be used for security purposes in driveways or garages. Motion sensor-connected stairways can be of great assistance for disabled patients. Additionally, smart lighting devices are energy-efficient, reducing energy costs for users.
4. Smart Homes Improve Energy Efficiency
Smart devices are proven to reduce energy costs as compared to standard appliances and home systems.
With precise control over all system settings, sensor-enabled and remote-controlled devices enhance the efficiency quotient of the home, helping to cut down on electricity bills. Some examples here are smart blinds and smart thermostats.
Smart Curtains and Blinds
Physically operating curtains and blinds for physically disabled or visually impaired patients can be inconvenient. Smart curtains enable you to control them remotely with the help of applications through your smartphones. Some smart blinds even enable solar charging of the motor which powers the mechanism, saving the effort of manually charging them.
Smart thermostats help you control the temperature of your home remotely. They are cost-effective and energy-efficient. For patients who need to keep their rooms warm, smart thermostats are a great alternative to traditional thermostats as they are controllable from a smartphone.
Smart thermostats can be very useful for patients suffering from cerebral palsy, as they tend to have lower body temperatures than other people. They are also beneficial for patients who are confined to wheelchairs, enabling them to easily control the temperatures of their homes without having to do so manually.
5. Smart Homes Help You Manage Your Home From One Place
Smart devices integrate with a variety of voice assistants, which enables users with disabilities to control other devices in their house just by giving voice commands. Thus, making it a completely hands-free experience.
Voice assistants are a centralized hub allowing you to control all of the devices in your house with a simple voice command. They can be of great help to users who have visual impairments or limited mobility.
In addition, smart devices give detailed reports about the functioning of the device and the related aspects it controls, giving users a clear idea of the energy consumed over a specific period of time.
6. Smart Homes Help Disabled Users Become Independent
Not only do smart devices help people manage their chores and activities with ease, but they help people with disabilities live a normal life and become self-reliant. By reducing the dependence on family members and/or carers, smart devices give a huge boost to their self-esteem and help them live a dignified and independent life.
There are several smart devices, such as smart pill dispensers and health trackers, that reduce the dependency of people with disabilities, help them monitor their health, and share daily reports with their doctors.
Smart gadgets like pill dispensers can assist primary caregivers in hospitals or who have to keep track of the medicines of a lot of residents. They are also a boon for patients who are suffering from dementia or who regularly forget to take their pills.
Health trackers and smart wearable technology for disabled patients can be used to monitor and maintain a constant count of oxygen and blood levels or even ECG levels.
Location-tracking devices can prove helpful for patients with Alzheimer's and dementia, as they can be used to track them down in case they wander off accidentally. For users with physical ailments, robotic cleaning devices can come in handy for daily household chores.
7. Smart Homes Can Be Customised to Cater to Individuals
The problem with conventional gadgets and appliances is that they are created for the masses and cannot generally be customized to suit a particular user’s needs.
Smart devices, however, can be customized to suit the requirements of people with disabilities, which makes it very easy for disabled users to adopt the technology.
Empowering People With Disabilities to Lead Independent Lives
Not only do smart devices give people living with disabilities the freedom to manage themselves independently, they also give them the opportunity to upgrade to a premium lifestyle.
Today, many tech companies are making a conscious effort to make smart devices that are designed exclusively for disabled users, to enable them to do everything that able-bodied people can do.
With the expansion and growth of the tech industry, the possibilities of smart innovation for disabled users are limitless.
Now, there is only the need to build greater awareness and encourage the adoption of these smart devices on a larger scale, to help disabled people lead more positive lives through increased control, security, and community participation.
Author: Pranoti Panchwagh
Source: Pranoti Panchwagh.” 7 Ways Smart Homes and Smart Devices Can Help People With Disabilities”. Retrieved From https://www.makeuseof.com/ways-smart-homes-devices-help-people-with-disabilities/
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