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What is a Smart Home Device?

Smart Home devices are those that can respond to stimulus, like commands given to an Amazon Echo device.  Smart Home devices allow those with movement problems to control their home appliances and do a variety of things with their voice, like:

  • Making phone calls
  • Setting timers
  • Setting alarms
  • Managing lists
  • Listening to music
  • Checking news and the weather
  • Ordering online essentials for the home

Amazon Echo and Alexa

Amazon has led the way in Smart Home connectivity, with their Echo listening device and 'Alexa', their artificial intelligence (AI) powered voice assistant.   The Echo device relays the user's command to the smart home appliances, allowing users to activate appliances, turn on/off lights, and even turn on their computers.

Tecla Enhances Alexa for Quadriplegic Users

Where Amazon's Smart Home functionality includes activating computing devices, the tecla-E  from tecla is a software app that allows the user to  operate software on the computer and on mobile devices.

The tecla-e allows user to use their voice to access their mobile devices, computers, and tablets.  It is designed for easily switching between and controlling the computers, tablets, and mobile phones.

Add-Ons for Speech Impaired Users

With an eye towards serving even more disabled and/or injured people (or when the user wants to stay silent and not disturb someone else), the tecla-e also works with devices that allow simple movements or even blowing air to operate computers and mobile devices, like:

Hive Active Smart Plug

The Hive Smart Plug is an adapter to that goes into a wall socket in order to plug your other devices into, and whatever is plugged into the Hive Smart Plug can be controlled via voice. You do have to invest in a hub that you communicate with to control various Hive smart plugs in your home, but The Hive app is very intuitive to use.

The Hive goes beyond simply turning devices on and off and can also communicates with other assistive technology inventions like "smart" bulbs that can be brightened or dimmed with verbal commands. The Hive can also raise or lower the temperature on the thermostat.

Google Smart Home is Powerful Assistive Technology

While Amazon is still the leader in smart home technology, don't count out Google Home which offers many of the same features and is being embraced by disabled and  injured people. An example is the Google Nest Thermostat, which is a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat that is by far the most popular thermostat being installed for the last few years.

The Google Nest Audio receptor allows people to use their voices to control many of the same appliances that the Amazon Echo and Alexa control.  For instance, a Google Home device can connect to smart  light bulbs, turning them on and off via voice command.

Not surprisingly the Google device also can also allows users to access the Internet to gather useful information when they need it most. You can ask your smart speaker where the nearest wheelchair-accessible pharmacy is, or whether or not your local restaurant is open, and even call the place an order (or do it online).Google's Audio "smart speaker" will help you call for help or contact a loved one when you need assistance urgently, without having to use your smartphone.

Get in Touch with a Specialist to Set Up Smart Home Devices

All of these assistive technologies and many other solutions will work wonders for an injured or disabled person, but it is not recommended that you set them up yourself. An Assistive Technology Specialist can  install the device correctly and optimize it to work with your voice while ensuring you know how to make it work for you.

To speak with one of our team members, contact us by calling the number above or filling out a form to the right.   Our team assists with ergonomics and assistive technology of all kinds to improve people's lives and we look forward to improving yours.


An excellent article published earlier this month in the Oakland Press newspaper highlights the crucial impact that assistive technology has upon those who are older and feeling the effects of aging.

As we age, we will inevitably experience the negative effects like loss of sight and mobility. These symptoms of aging can reduce someone's quality of life, especially if they are unable to work or if they live away from close friends and family members.

The good news is that there is a growing arsenal of assistive devices and technologies that can make a huge difference for older people. 'Assistive technology' is a large category that include everything from hearing aids and grab bars to wheelchair lifts and dictation software.

Identifying the Problem & Getting Help

The gradual nature of many signs of aging causes us to ignore them, or perhaps even not realize they are occurring.  Ignoring or hiding issues doesn’t do any good and may be detrimental to health or quality of life.

The first step is identifying challenges and getting connected to the right people who can help. A company like ours, Northwest Ergonomics and Wellness, can help families and employers find the right resources and training to address their needs. We specialize in assistive solutions to keep people working and happily computing.

Lots of Solutions Available

The majority of workplace solutions that we are called upon to implement have to do with overcoming physical challenges to work on computers. One of our most frequently requested services is the implementation and training of Dragon Naturally Speaking dictation software which can open up new worlds to those who are struggling to use their computer due to movement or sight issues.

There is also a plethora of other devices available that allow feet and your voice to trigger actions that are traditionally done with the hands.

Help for People of All Ages

These technological leaps have benefited people of all ages, not just the elderly. There are people of all ages who struggle with movement due to diagnoses like cerebral palsy and Parkinson's Disease.  Some people have experienced repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel problems.

The goal is to make the home and workspace as safe and user-friendly as safe as possible by incorporating devices thoughtfully as needed. This is best achieved when decisions are made as soon as possible and not while in crisis mode.

The Importance of Your Attitude

Change is difficult and accepting that your body is changing can be sad and frustrating.   We have found that our clients who thrive the most are the ones who stay as positive as possible about adopting new tools and processes.  Having a caring consultant like our assistive technology specialists can make a huge difference in the attitude of someone who is adjusting to new routines.

Contact Us for Help

Contact Northwest Ergonomics & Wellness if you are experiencing a loss of movement, hearing, sight, or any other disability that technology may be able to assuage. You won't know what is possible until you contact the experts. We have a dedicated team of assistive technology specialists who really care about our clients and go the extra mile to find them solutions to keep them productive and happy. You can fill out a form on the contact page, or call us at 206-707-8380.