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:
- buddy buttons
- micro light switches
- chin switches
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.
What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology describes any device that helps “assist” people with injuries or disabilities. Most typically, this label is applied to software that enhances one’s ability to use a computer. There are some wonderful tools available so that people who are visually impaired, or even blind, can take advantage of computers and technology.
Assistive Technology for the Blind and Visually Impaired
In the case of blind people and those who have “low vision” (or are visually impaired) it’s very common that they will take advantage of
JAWS® Screen Reader
JAWS® ,developed by Freedom Scientific, is the world’s most popular screen reader. JAWS® stands for Job Access With Speech. This software is voice activated in reads the screen out (on Windows devices) out loud to computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse.
JAWS provides speech and Braille output for the most popular computer applications on your PC. You will be able to navigate the Internet, write a document, read an e-mail, and create presentations from your office, remote desktop, or from home.
ZoomText and Fusion Professional
The company called ZoomText has developed its namesake software to magnify ‘on-screen’ text for those who have visual impairment (or “low vision” individuals).
A related product is “Fusion”, named such because it combines both the ZoomText, functionality with the JAWS® product discussed above. So users can get the magnified text as well as the screen reading functionality.
Accessible Feature Mobile Phones for People with Visual Impairments
At the time of this guide's publication, three feature phones stood out for their accessibility.
The Kyocera Kona and Kyocera Verve
Offered by Sprint/T-Mobile, the Kona is flip phone that includes a feature set that helps make it accessible to visually impaired individuals. The Verve is a candy-bar style phone is also available either with or without a contract. The Verve offers a slide out keyboard for those who wish to text frequently with accessibility. Read reviews for both the Verve and the Kona from AFB AccessWorld.
The Odin VI
The Odin VI from Odin Mobile, a third-party cell provider that specializes in serving those with visual impairments, is a candy-bar style phone with a slide-out keypad. Read a review of the Odin VI in AFB AccessWorld.
Get in Touch with an Expert at Northwest Ergonomics & Assistive Technology
Northwest Ergonomics and Assistive Technology is here to help with your assistive technology needs. Our trained experts will consult with you to understand your specific needs and provide solutions that really work. We help people of all ages who have experienced any kind of disability.
It is important to our caring specialists that you really get the benefit of these wonderful advancements in technology. For that reason we specialize in training and follow-up to make sure that everything is working as effectively as possible for you.
To contact us, use the form on our contact page, or call 206-707-8830