smart ‘able’ homes for smart ‘disabled’ people

Lately, I’ve been pondering (not for the first time) the sort of house I would like to (NEED to) live in if I were quadriplegic, yet fully intellectually engaged with life – as is Christopher.

Ideally, there would be loving and capable people around me all the rest of my days to commit their life energy to meeting my daily, yes hourly needs. In addition, again ideally, there would be sufficient resources available to provide the sorts of equipment and technology for comfort, mobility, communication, safety, fun, creativity and opportunities to participate in wider society.

home automationThat’s where the smart, ‘able’ house (home automation) comes in. From my research, anything from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars could be spent on creating a smart, networked home.

1. Computer/RC Access – we know firstly that Christopher can gain quite remarkable control over a computer (and his environmental-control device called a Dynamo) via a small switch we strap to the head rest of his wheelchair. By tapping this switch, which is connected to a computor via ‘Discover Switch’, he can do virtually anything with a computer that you or I can when we use a mouse.

We have recently discovered that we can strap this same switch to his bed so that he has control while sitting up when the bed is elevated to the sitting position. So…any network than can be controlled by computer software (or infrared remote) can be controlled by Christopher. Now, mount a laptop and dynamo on a powered wheelchair and suddenly you have a ‘mobile technology platform’!

2. Home Automation – Imagine a house that is comprehensively networked – either wired or wirelessly, or both – making it possible for the components of the home to be automated or controlled from a laptop computer or remote control. Lights on and off; curtains opened and closed; air conditioner activated and adjusted; electric doors opened and closed; radio/tv/dvd switched on and volume adjusted; internet search for a new audiobook, today’s news, a music album purchased and downloaded…you get the picture.

None of this whizzbang gadgetry would replace a human being standing by at all times; but it would help.

Oh, and of course most of the household electricity would be supplied by solar panels and supplemented by back-up generator.


~ by Garry on October 13, 2009.

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