Using Home Automation Technology to Help With Senior Home Care

Right off the bat, I want to state that I am NOT saying that home automation, or technology in general, can take over for nursing visits, medical care, and basic human interaction and socialization. What I would like to discuss, is how home automation and technology can help make the difficult job of caring for an elderly loved one a little easier.

There is a statistic being mentioned regularly on news stories on the topic that 10,000 people a day will turn 65 for the next 19 years. It’s always hard to quantify these sort of figures, but think of a good-sized small town, or maybe about 1/4 of a professional football stadium or baseball parks capacity. None of these numbers really matter anyway, not as much as the most important number does. That would be #1 (as in: just looking out for…). Most people have an elderly parent or grandparent who has required special assistance as they get older. According to the number above, if you don’t have one of these people in your life now, you soon will.

Most people would look at a home automation system and think that it is beyond their technological abilities. When I put my first component, a dead-bolt, into my home system, I had set aside a whole day to wrestle and fight with it. 5 minutes after starting I was done, and speechless at how easy it was to interface the dead-bolt into the system!

The beauty of home automation is that it can grow and expand as your schedule and budget allows. Most home automation systems require a controller (which can often double as a WiFi access point) and an internet connection if you desire remote access. Other than the cost of your internet connection, there should be no recurring cost to your own home automation system. While there are many companies charging monthly service fees to provide home automation, this really is not necessary for most homes. Most components mentioned in this article are under $100, usually about $50-$75. The most expensive items in this article are about $250. When considering the costs of major home systems such as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC, these are very minor costs, more on par with home decor than that of infrastructure!

Many senior citizens are able to embrace their golden years with full capability, not even skipping a beat in their mental and physical abilities between their earlier years and their current life. Many others, however, need some help with things they didn’t used to need help with. The following is a list of some common issues senior citizens have, along with some suggestions on how home automation and other technologies can help.

Forgetfulness: I often hear people say things like ‘I can’t remember what I was doing 5 minutes ago’ or ‘I cant even remember what I did yesterday’. Unfortunately, I don’t have any advice for this, since I am in the same boat! What I can suggest is help for more acute situations of memory loss. Situations where a senior citizen turns on a stove, or coffee pot, and forgets to turn it off. There are home automation products that will allow you to automatically kill a circuit after power has been drawn through it for a certain period of time. These can also be setup within a system to send an alert or alarm, depending on your preference. Are there certain things that need to happen every day that are being forgotten, such as taking medication? You can put a door sensor on the medicine cabinet and setup your system so that a reminder message will appear on the homes status screen, or even a reminder message of ’12PM, it is time for medication’ to be played throughout the house. If the sensor on the cabinet does not sense that the door has been opened after a period of time, it can send a message to out to let someone else know that the medicine has not been taken. There are home automation door locks and dead bolts that can provide status checks and be controlled remotely. Previously mentioned sensors can be placed on windows to know when they are open or closed. Products such as these can provide an extra set of eyes on the vulnerable security areas of a seniors home without actually being there.

Fading Senses: It is a fact of life that as we age, our senses start to go. Depending on what issues your loved one is having, there is an easy, inexpensive solution to help work around it within the home. Eyesight going? Connecting sensors to doors (other than door-bells of course), windows, and other areas can help let them know when something is left open, or generally not how it should be. Hearing going? Strobe lights, LED’s, and status messages can be displayed at a central location or throughout the house when something is not right. Smell going? Carbon Monoxide/Dioxide and smoke detectors are all available to interface with home automation systems. In addition to the standard alarm siren, these can be setup to trigger other actions like the strobe lights and status messages mentioned above, as well as sending emergency messages and/or calls to people outside the house.

Falling: The number one cause of senior injury in the home is caused by falling. Of course, the first thing most people think of when this is brought up is the now iconic ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’ commercials from the late 80’s. While these commercials were lampooned for their cheesy acting, the subject matter is of a very real issue. The same basic idea of being able to call for help is the best of some very limited options in these situations. There are now devices available that will call within the house if the senior citizen is living with someone else. There are devices that will call or text message through phone lines. And of course, there are options available that will call 911. All of these options have there place, are inexpensive, and can even be had without paying any subscription costs! The other home automation technology that can help avoid falling accidents is having lights triggered by motion sensors. People of all ages are subject to having an accident while fumbling around blindly in the dark, and senior citizens are no exception. By having lights come on automatically when motion is detected, this risk is eliminated.

Home Maintenance: Often times a seniors home can fall out of repair over time. Basements are particularly prone to this, since there is usually not a common living area in a basement that is used daily by empty-nesters. Add the physical strain and possibility of falling on the stairs and you have a basement that won’t see much action. Products such as water sensors that can send an alert when there is pooling water can provide a very inexpensive insurance plan for what could turn into a very expensive repair. Previously mentioned carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and smoke detectors can all be of great value monitoring a seldom used basement. As mentioned before, these alarms can all be set to send alerts, trigger alarms, or trigger other actions to notify people of the issue.

Utility Monitoring: Seniors are often more sensitive to extreme temperatures. Networkable Thermostats provide real-time monitoring of the temperature setting of a home. This can be extremely useful to make sure a seniors home is kept within an ideal temperature range. These thermostats can be programmed to turn on heat or AC automatically when a certain temperature is reached. As a bonus savings, programmable thermostats can be set to follow a daily schedule to allow the temperature to fluctuate to ones preferences during the day. Thermostats can be controlled remotely and be setup to send alerts or alarms when a temperature is reached or the settings are changed. Electrical monitoring products offer remote monitoring of the devices pulling current through them, as well as control of turning the device on and off. This can be useful in keeping an eye on certain devices that can be dangerous if left on or unattended.

Cameras: It is an unfortunate reality that senior citizens are often targeted as easy prey by those looking to take advantage of someone, whatever their misguided reasons may be. Placing security cameras outside the house with clear view of doors and windows can prove to be very helpful in providing a safe way to monitor a home. These cameras can be setup to record and/or be viewed in real-time. As for cameras inside the house, these can prove to be very useful as well. I want to make my point perfectly clear that there are many good people who provide vital services for the elderly, but there are some people who would take advantage of their position of trust. While cameras in the home can provide security when a senior is at their most vulnerable, there are also matters of trust and privacy to consider and discuss.

As I’ve referenced throughout the article, a home automation system can be accessed and monitored remotely. This can be done using an internet capable device such as a computer, a smartphone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone) or tablet. Computer access and smartphone apps allow you to check each components status, control the components, and even view the cameras from anywhere!

All of these components can be linked together as necessary to create what are called ‘macros’. For example, maybe you have a camera facing the front door that comes on whenever the door is unlocked. Maybe whenever a light sensor detects that it is nighttime, the doors lock and the lights come on; outdoor lights all night and living room lights until 10 PM/bedtime (with motion detection on/off). Any windows that are sensed as ‘open’ send an alert to the message center to make sure they are closed. Any windows not closed by bedtime send a text alert to the seniors care taker (you). Curtains are drawn using a motor connected to the curtain drawstring. These are just a few examples of how macros can be bundled together to create multi-process actions to automatically handle a process. The only limit to these processes is your needs and imagination!

I hope that this has spurred your imagination and maybe even helps make your situation as a caregiver a little easier. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or want to discuss your situation or ideas you have!

Affordable Home Automation Ideas

Is There A Possibility To Find Affordable Home Automation Equipment?

At first glance the terms “cost effective” and “home automation” don’t sound right in the same breath. The reason I say this is not unusual that home automation costs can reach up to a hundred thousand dollars or more. So you are going to be happy to hear what I am about to say.

Please allow me to explain.

It is wise that you do your home work into the various home automation manufacturers lines available before choosing one to invest in. Some of the frugal home automation systems rely on technology that seems to hit and miss at times.

Some of the designer label products have such astronomical programming labor rates that go with them that could reach up to $50k, and thats only for the programming. (Then you need to add in the design costs, home automation equipment purchase, & installation fees.)

Now you can see why I recommend to choose an affordable home automation system that will give you the flexibility to start off with a affordable controller and then add modules to automate even more things down the road.

To begin with why not start off with an all in one remote control for your entire surround sound system. Instead of Putting all of your money in one of those smart universal remote controls–
For just a little bit more you could own a home automation control device, that not only talks with your Television, 5.1 surround sound Receiver, & Satellite Receiver it can look at your DVD & search the web for the jacket cover art & display it on your plasma screen.

Whereas you used to have 22 remote controls you now have one home automation remote that can seamlessly assimilate all of you home theater equipment with a mere push of a button.

Now if you had just bought one of those smart remote controls you would be limited to working surround sound equipment only.

But thats not the case if you had invested in a genuine home automation controller. Your home theater controller will offer you the flexibility to upgrade your home automation functionality as you can afford it. Down the road when you have a few extra dollars set aside to put a little more on your home automation system then you can add something like 4″ wi-fi or Ethernet touch screens & keypads.| The best thing though is that you can actually add features like integrating your burglar alarm system, heating and air, distributed audio, and even automate your lights, a little at a time as you can afford it.

One home automation control can now control all of these devices and cause a chain reaction of events to occur with a click of a button.
Imagine this for a moment when you wake up in the morning instead of an alarm clock waking you… you awaken to your favorite XM station, the heat kicks on because the floor will be too cold to walk on, your electric shades open to allow the mornings light to fill your room & your TV comes on with the morning news!

Let that sink in for a minute, an affordable home automation setup that you can add home automation control modules to as you can afford them. This way your equipment can grow with you as you can afford to do it instead of having to settle for less features in a system or having to put off having your home automation system all together.

Will Smart Home Automation Change the Modern Living Forever?

Smart home automation is earning swift recognition among consumers around the world. In today’s day and age, a lot of emphasis is being given to the technologies that make the daily lives comfortable, fast, and easy. Automation is one of such booming technologies witnessing advancements in terms of innovation and applications at a supersonic pace. Home automation or smart home technology involves mechanization of thermostats, security, temperature controls, and home appliances. Introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized smart home automation for the better. It offers automatic control of electronic and electric devices in homes. Users access these devices through wireless communication. Home appliance manufacturers from around the world are keen on inventing more effective and affordable devices to impel the sales and ensure customer satisfaction. As a result, the global demand for smart home automation is flooded with groundbreaking home systems.

High Points of Smart Home Automation Technology

Smartphones can be connected to practically anything and everything that is technology-enabled. Be it banking, entertainment, or home settings. The home technology is evolving at a rapid pace. The technology is promising, convenient, and rapidly evolving. The modern world is reaching the tipping point as far as utilization of technology in homes, workplaces, and other spheres of daily human lives are concerned. Artificial intelligence (AI) is another such technology finding its way in daily human lives. Availability of a myriad of automated devices and high-tech concepts at the consumer technology and trade shows like the Consumer Electric Show (CES) only point out the advancement in automation technology. Along with enhancements, smart technology and smart home technology in particular is anticipated to become easily accessible. This could be one of the biggest high points for the consumers across the globe. Along with mechanized home features and security devices, consumers will witness the advent of technologies like lookout cameras for pets and automated shopping. Take a look at some of the imminent trends in home automation:

Cameras for Pets
Closed-circuit television or CCTV has been the original security essential as far as home automation is concerned. With the combination of security cameras and smart home automation, they have become all the more indispensable and sophisticated. Along with the standard usage for security purposes, the cameras installed in households can help pet owners monitor the activities of their pets. These cameras have motion sensors with the ability to self-activate when the pets move. These devices can also soothe pets that are nervous and are prone to damaging furniture and other home articles. For instance, the recently launched Petcube Play Interactive camera, a Wi-Fi enabled indoor pet camera that allows pet owners to check in on their pets through smartphones and other smart devices. It also allows interaction with the help of two-way audio and high definition video camera. The sound alerts added to the cameras notify users in case of major events.

Wireless Kitchen
Futuristic, is the buzzword for smart home automation. Manufacturers of modern home appliances and technologies are keen on adopting technologies that can provide customer satisfaction and convenience. For example, URBANEER recently developed the first commercially available wireless kitchen in partnership with the Wireless Power Consortium or WPC. It has automatic kitchen products designed using advanced technology for the utmost customer comfort and optimal use of home space. These customizable products are considered to be ideal for modern homes. After the launch of the game changing furniture line with built-in chargers by Ikea, many other companies have ventured into wireless charging furniture. This type of furniture transmits electricity with the help of electromagnetic fields through a base and a receiver. From lamps to side tables to stand-alone charging pads, companies like Ikea are revolutionizing the industry for home automation. Another company, Curvilux recently launched its nightstand product with attached wireless charging pad.

Breathing Sleep Robot
Enhancing sleep technology is a part of the smart home automation revolution taking place across the world. Companies are launching advanced devices that use technology and data to manage health, sleep, exercise, and other activities of the users. Apart from the fitness trackers, smart beds, and pillows, manufacturers are introducing other ground-breaking products. For example, the Sensorwake 2 Olfactory Alarm Clock. This clock wakes up the users with a pleasant smell of their choice. It uses soft melodies, dynamic light, and a scent that instantly puts the user in good mood. Another pioneering discovery made in the field of home automation is the sleep robot. To put this into perspective, Somnox recently introduced the world’s first ever sleep robot that improves sleep by stimulating breathing. It can also help reduce stress and unwanted thoughts. The sounds like heartbeat and guided meditation can help the users fall asleep faster.

Multi-room Music
Although multi-room music has been around for a few years, the technology is witnessing rapid advancements in terms of innovative applications and devices. The manufacturers in the smart home automation industry are keen on launching high-tech products that can play different kinds of music in different rooms of the house based on the mood of the users. All the multi-room products of today including smart speakers, AV receivers, network streamers, wireless speakers, and stereo amplifiers run using either wireless technology or by creating their own mesh network. Most of these music systems work on the Wi-Fi network of the users’ homes. DTS Play-Fi, AirPlay 2, Sonos One, Amazon Echo, Amazon Alexa, and Google Chromecast Audio, and Bose Soundtouch 10 are some of the examples of multi-room music systems available with customizable user experience. Almost all of these systems have their dedicated smartphone app that allows easy access and trouble-free control of the multiroom.

Overview of the Smart Home Automation Market
The global market for smart home automation is anticipated to witness impressive growth in the forthcoming years. Remote control living and high demand for automation will remain the major baits for the users opting for the advanced products available in the market. Rising disposable income and awareness regarding the innovations taking place in the world of technology can create major business opportunities for the top market players like Honeywell International Inc.; Lutron Electronics Co., Inc.; Legrand SA; Schneider Electric; and others. High demand for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, smart kitchen, smart security, and energy management can propel the demand for the global market in near future.

Rising penetration of internet of things is one of the major factors responsible for the innovations taking place in smart home automation technology. Arrival of smart thermostat technologies such as Z-Wave, C-Bus, ZigBee, KNX, EnOcean, and others has simplified the adoption and implementation of wireless technology. This technology plays a crucial role in the insanely increasing popularity of home automation. Major companies in the market are keen in investing heavily in research and development along with business collaborations. Growing demand for home entertainment, security, and energy management can be considered as a vital sign of growth for this industry.

In conclusion, a myriad of brand new products are expected to be launched in the market for smart home automation in the next few years. Most of these products will heavily rely on Internet of things, artificial intelligence, and smart sensor technology. The best thing about automated smart home products is the way they allow the users to have total control of the way they prefer for the product to function. Easy accessibility of cutting-edge technology and pioneering products is also anticipated to set the precedence for the companies operating in this market.