One in four adults in the United States of America, it had been estimated, lives with a disability, ranging from physical and motor impairments caused by conditions like cerebral palsy to memory loss resulting from Alzheimer’s. Disabled adults’ needs are unique according to their lifestyle, age, and condition. Smart devices increasingly offer convenient solutions that support their diverse needs.
IoT Secure has compiled a list of smart devices that have additional utilities for People with Disabilities from a collection of news and expert reports. These innovations include several underlying mechanisms that power smart devices like voice-activated assistance and the use of movement sensors.
Several have systems that coordinate home monitoring devices that can reduce or report elderly falls. Apps users can control from their smartwatches. Wristband devices have the advantage of being less likely to be dropped—or lost somewhere in the house—than a cell phone. Several adults with disabilities need a little bit of support to live independently and maintain their best quality of life, and smart devices may help.
One of the major ways the Internet of Things (IoT) can help make life more convenient is by letting smart devices interface using voice commands. For people having difficulty typing or coordinating hand movements, this makes it easier to write emails, memos, or other reports. Instead of typing on a keyboard, they can use their voice to complete the tasks with much less friction.
For users at the home, one can use voice search to set up reminders, access entertainment, search for education resources, and more. This is convenient for those with mobility challenges, who can call out to devices from almost anywhere, reducing the need to make extra trips around their house or type with many different devices.
A video doorbell is a crucial option for people with motor disabilities or visual impairment as it takes away the mystery of whether someone is at the door—and who it might be. Using an intercom, residents can speak with whoever is outside to leave instructions for packages and other deliveries. This also makes it safer so they don’t need to open the door to strangers.
It had been decades since keycards started to take over the world of hotels, and drivers have enjoyed keyless ignition in their cars for years. But home locks have lagged, still usually requiring metal keys and a mechanical tumbler with deadbolt locks that are operated by hand.
IoT devices also extend to smart locks operated by voice or by app access through a phone or other device. Users can open their front doors to visitors without having to make a trip from the kitchen or even the backyard. For those prone to memory loss—or losing their keys–this also makes it faster and safer to get home safely.
Smart light bulbs
Smart light bulbs were one of the first IoT home devices offered to consumers. Timers and customized dimmers can be controlled remotely. These allow tailored experiences without having to call an electrician to rewire a switch or light fixture.
For People with Disabilities, they offer access to lighting without having to fumble in the dark reaching the switch. When combined with the right sensors, they can also do important work like flashing when someone approaches the front door—one of the major ways hard-of-hearing or deaf individuals have used their doorbells for decades.
Robotic vacuum cleaners
Vacuuming a home is a surprisingly taxing task. It’s physical in the sense of pushing the vacuum cleaner around the house but also stooping to plug and unplug the machine and navigating the vac under beds or other pieces of furniture in the home. Robotic vacuum cleaners like Roomba can cut down on the number of times someone must manually vacuum their home. This is helpful for people with physical disabilities but can also help those with memory issues, reducing the need for them to remember and complete a task.
Smart security systems
Smart security systems more than simply monitor the perimeter for intrusion. Although they do monitor for unwanted visitors, these devices can also observe your home for a host of issues, like leaky plumbing or an increase in basement humidity, both of which could cause significant property damage. Sensors can detect a movement that’s out of the ordinary, giving people more information about what’s going on in their homes.
These tools help all homeowners, but especially those who may face mobility and physical challenges that limit their access to attics, stairs, and under-the-house crawlspaces.
The smartwatch turns a regular timepiece into a remote control. The smartwatch can be equipped with apps to call emergency services in case of a fall and injury. It can monitor health information like heart rate and activity level for people who may have cognitive disabilities and can’t self-report this data to relatives and physicians. The smartwatch can also interface with almost anything else run by an app, making it an even more convenient way to interact with smart doorbells, security systems, and more.
Smart smoke detector
The classic smoke detector is loud and mounted on the ceiling, both of which make sense for what the device is doing. People no longer have to climb on a stepladder to turn off the smoke detector. A smart smoke detector can even send a phone alert before its loud sound is triggered, letting users address the problem without a disruptive and upsetting noise experience. Once the detector is set up in its position on or near the ceiling, it can be controlled almost entirely remotely.
Videophones date back decades but connecting these devices to Wi-Fi means they can be accessed anytime with little effort. People can check in with loved ones to ask about daily routines and “visit” elderly relatives regularly, even if they live far away. Having devices “always online” also reduces the friction in using them, meaning older adults may be more likely to use the devices both to ask for help and also simply to socialize. It’s easy to switch on a call and see and talk with a friend while cooking dinner or speaking to relatives and close friends, even without leaving the bed.
Imagine a home where you know anytime a window is opened or where the lights turn on, triggered by motion detectors. For someone living independently, this could help in feeling more secure against burglaries. For those monitoring loved ones who need a little bit of support, this could mean peace of mind that their elderly parents or ageing disabled relatives are sleeping soundly.