Smart home technology has the potential to give our seniors an even greater sense of independence and empowerment. From robot vacuum cleaners that help clean the house all by themselves, to receiving your daily news and weather report with a few simple voice commands, a senior-friendly smart home setup will bring new accessibility to areas of daily life that, until now, often required support.
Most smart home technologies can be operated by a portable handheld device like a compatible smartphone or a tablet. Although there may be a learning curve, once you understand how to operate systems via your device, there may be less of a need to move around the house.
Robot vacuum cleaners can be operated via a remote, or they can be automated to clean at certain times of the day. In either case, you don’t need to get up and lug around a vacuum cleaner to clean the house. There are plenty of options for robot vacuum cleaners that can integrate with your smart home hub. A few popular options include the Neato Botvac D7™ and the Samsung Powerbot R7070.
Smart locks allow you to unlock your door without needing to get up from your seat. Smart doors are not only a likely improvement on your current security, they also can make answering the door a much less painful task than it may have been previously. If set up in conjunction with a smart home camera system, you can see who is at the door before you unlock it. Some garage doors and front gates are also available with similar functions to a smart lock; you can open the garage, or a gate with your smartphone or tablet provided it has Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity.
Smart home lighting can be operated in a number of ways. The ability to have sensor controlled or voice-operated lights means that you won’t need to find switches in the dark or hard-to-reach places. There are dozens of smart bulbs on the market. The key to picking your smart bulb set up is to see if it is compatible with the hub system you have installed in your house. If you use Amazon Echo, or Google Home make sure that the light bulbs you choose can be controlled through those devices.
Google Home and Amazon Echo are smart speaker systems that can perform a number of tasks in response to voice commands. Smart speakers can give you updates about the weather, and the news. They can also entertain you with music or audiobooks, and they can keep you in contact with friends and family through voice-controlled annotation of text and email. Smart speakers are often compatible with other smart devices in your home like lighting and air-conditioning; however, the commands are usually limited to simple actions like “on” or “off”. The learning curve for using a voice-controlled device is significantly more comfortable than that of a device controlled by a tablet or smartphone, which makes a smart speaker system an optimal choice for people who haven’t always been digitally oriented. It also is an extremely beneficial tool for anyone with impaired vision as you only need to speak to operate the device.
To get started, pick your hub – not all smart devices are compatible with all hubs. Google Home, Amazon Echo, or the Apple Home Pod are each popular choices with a variety of compatible devices. Next select the smart devices you want to use (smart bulbs, robot vacuums, smart locks, cameras, etc.) and make sure they are compatible with your hub. Familiarise yourself with how to control the devices through your compatible phone or tablet or set voice-operated commands through a smart speaker. If you need a more detailed breakdown on how to set up your smart home system, check out a multi-part series on how to build a smart home from scratch.