Smart Devices Making Everyday Life Easier for People With Disabilities

There is no greater feeling than having a sense of independence among those in the disabled community. Wheelchairs are heavily promoted as a piece of equipment needed to promote independence among those living with a disability but there are many forms of disability & limited accessibility that aren’t always related to mobility impairments. Moore’s law has shown us that the capacity of technology doubles every 18 months and in the last couple of years there have been great strides made in assistive technology. Thanks to rapidly improving technology and ever-continuing disruption, accessibility focused mobile applications & smart devices for people with disabilities have been invented to improve the lives of everyone, especially people with disabilities. The iAccess Life app is an example of software assistive technology to allow users with disabilities to rate, review and search for establishments such as restaurants, hotels, and retail stores based on their accessibility. iAccess Life has previously compiled a list of the best apps for the mobility impaired and has followed that up with list of extremely useful smart devices for people with disabilities.

When most people think of smart home devices for disabled people, they picture items that may be too costly for the average person. This is a misconception and iAccess Life is here to share our list of the most affordable & useful smart home devices for the disabled. Before we delve into our list of devices, here are a couple of reasons why these items shall continue to become more affordable over the coming years:

More options to choose from will trigger more competition

Various platforms such as Amazon, Google and Apple have entered into the Internet of Things (IOT) market. Different brands are available under these platforms and the competition will lead to pocket-friendly prices. Later on we will spotlight smart devices for people with disabilities that are found on Amazon and other retailers.

Smart Devices are Easy to Install

Most devices that are designed specifically for the disabled are usually costly or require an expensive installation fee. This is because installation charges are incorporated in the purchase price. Prices for these devices and installation can easily cost consumers $500+ depending on the complexity of the device. However, smart home devices for disabled people are typically reasonably priced and are easy to install by the homeowner, family, friend or caretakers.

The client base will grow hence increased demand

Studies show that by 2025, there will be approximately 70 billion devices that are connected to the internet.  With such a huge number of devices in the market, the competitive factor will force the prices down so as to attract more customers.

The most useful solutions will become the most popular

Convenience of a device plays a major role. For example, wifi-enabled toasters will compete for a much smaller market share than robotic vacuum cleaners. It is for this reason that smart devices for people living with disability will always focus on the immediate needs of their target user.

Let’s check out some of the best smart home devices for people with disabilities:

1. Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo is a form of speaker which connects to other cloud-based services such as Alexa. This allows a person with a mobility impairment or limited use of their extremities to carry out a number of simple tasks by using their voices. Such tasks include:

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

The device produces quality sound that is clear and precise. Other than that, it easy to control and is fully compatible with other home devices. See how to install your Amazon Echo below:

Echo Plus (2nd Gen) - Premium sound with built-in smart home hub

Echo (2nd Generation) - Smart speaker with Alexa and Dolby processing

Echo Dot (3rd Gen) - Voice control your smart home with Alexa

2. Hive Active Smart Plug

The Hive Smart Plug is one of the most useful smart devices for the disabled as it functions as an adapter to plug your other devices into. It is plugged right into the wall and any device that gets plugged onto it can be controlled by the homeowner. To take advantage of the hive smart plug or any hive smart device, first you’ll need the Hive Hub. Once the Hub is setup, the system will look for your new devices, and if found, install them and show them on the app display. The Hive app is very intuitive to use. You can add multiple devices to the system seamlessly and quickly. On average, it probably takes around 45 seconds for the device to be found.

Once identified and added to the system, you’re then able to use the app to actually control that device. The range of actions you can perform depends on what devices you add but for but for consumers with limited mobility in their extremities, being able to control multiple functions from a phone in a simple interface can make all the difference. Some examples include things like turning a lamp on / off, changing the brightness and color of a smart bulb, or turning up the heating or air conditioning. Hive sensors are synchronized with the plug and this allows various commands to be executed. For instance, you can start your morning coffee from the comfort of your bed. Checkout this great tutorial for installing and using the Hive Active Smart Plug:

Hive Smart Home Hub, Used to Connect Hive Products, Works with Alexa & Google Home - $39.99

Hive Active Plug for Smart Home, Indoor Smart Outlet, Works with Alexa & Google Home, Requires Hive Hub - $29.65

Hive Heating and Cooling Smart Thermostat Pack, Thermostat + Hive Hub, Works with Alexa & Google Home - $117.00

3. Amazon Echo Spot

The Echo Spot is similar to the Amazon Echo in that both are speakers. However, the advantage of the spot is that it includes a screen and webcam. The screen is especially beneficial as it allows the person to see:

  • Time
  • Weather
  • Recipes
  • Photographs
  • Song lyrics
  • Youtube videos

The spot is a great device to keep in your kitchen or bathroom to assist you when performing daily activities like cooking or getting ready in the morning. What makes the Amazon Echo Spot stand out is that other home devices can also be connected to it. This makes it easy for someone with a disability to perform multiple activities from a single voice activated device. You can even use the spot to make video calls with others that have access to Alexa from a video enabled device. Learn how to setup your Amazon Echo Spot below:

4. Philips Hue Smart Bulb Starter Kit

The Philips hue bulbs function similarly to the hive system. The bulb kit can be connected to your phone to enable you to either turn the light on and off from your phone or with voice commands from an Alexa enabled device. You can also change the colors of your bulbs and set various settings for different moods. Learn how to install this device here.

5. Ring Doorbell

Sitting in a wheelchair all day long can be exhausting and taxing on the body. Those with mobility impairments  may opt to lay in bed or on the couch when they are in the comfort of their own home as it is much softer and easier on the body. Whether you are expecting guests, receive a package, order takeout or get a knock at the door you weren’t expecting, you can answer your video enabled smart doorbell from your phone and see if you need to actually get up and open the door or better yet, unlock the door using your smart lock which we will introduce next. The Ring Smart Doorbell is a smart device that has motion sensors attached to it. It enables you to see who is at the door without have to get up.  The device is connected to your phone, which acts as the monitoring screen. Ring security is $10 a month and it will record every motion captured in front of your door.

6. Smart Lock

Smart Locks are the safer alternatives to keypads especially if the homeowner would like to give their caretaker, housekeeper or a guest access to the house. If you have a regular caretaker who visits your home on set schedule you can provide them temporary access to the house during the window of time they are slated to visit. Smart locks are great for those with mobility impairments because it allows for keyless entry to your home, which is especially useful if you are returning from a grocery run or a trip and are carrying additional baggage when entering your home. There are many brands of varying functionality and price, here are a few we recommend.

 

7. Nest Smart Thermostat

Smart thermostats like the Nest work by allowing you to set your house temperature to your desired range. This device is particularly useful to those with Cerebral Palsy as they tend to generally have lower body temperature compared to the average person. In general, those who use mobility aides like wheelchairs might not be able to reach their thermostat easily and would benefit from being able to control their homes temperature from their phone. Another benefit that smart thermostats provide is that you can set your settings for your house to allow the temperature to rise and drop naturally when you are away for work or on vacation so that you can save on your electricity and gas bills. This feature alone will allow you to recoup the costs of the thermostat over a short time. Many power companies will give you a credit or even provide you a free smart thermostat as they promote more efficient energy use.

8. My Smart Blinds

Drawing curtains or blinds can be extremely difficult for people with limited mobility. MySmartBlinds is a kit which allows disabled people to draw their blinds easily through their phones. The kit is supported by both Alexa and Google so that you can command instructions through voice commands. The MySmartBlinds kit also includes a solar panel that allows you to charge the motor of your smart blinds through solar energy.

9. Smart Garage Opener

Smart garage door openers enable you to open your garage door from anywhere. However, before investing in a smart garage opener, it is crucial to confirm that the brand of your garage door is compatible with the smart devices you already own so that you can take advantage of features like voice enabled commands. The NEXX smart garage opener is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant and sells for pocket-friendly price. All you need to activate the garage door is to tap on the Nexx App or engage the opener through voice commands from the Alexa or Google Assistant apps.

10. Furbo

Furbo is the original dog camera and treat dispenser designed to connect pet parents and fur babies from afar. Recently, Furbo released an Alexa skill developed to help fur-parents train their dogs and decrease separation anxiety. For pet parents with disabilities, training your fur baby can be difficult if you have a a mobility impairment that affects your ability to physically interact with your pet. With Furbo, pet parents can take advantage of some of Furbo’s most innovative features like pre-scheduled or behavior-based events using Alexa voice commands.  The initial launch includes actions focused on treat-tossing capabilities. Additionally, commands based on barking alerts, which notify users when a dog is barking or howling if an owner is away, are slated to launch in the coming weeks. Together, Alexa and Furbo will make it easy for dog parents to use behavior modification techniques to help keep dogs calm while away or for dog parents with disabilities to easily train their furry friends with the help of Furbo.