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How Smart Home Tech Products Can Improve Home Access & Make Life Easier

Recently, Home Mobility Solutions, which was acquired by EHLS/Lifeway Mobility CHI in July 2019, was contacted to assist with a home/bathroom modification for a Chicago area resident by the name of Luis.

Background

In the winter of 2018, Luis was involved in a serious accident in which he suffered severe injuries to the nerves in both of his arms. The only way to survive the injuries was to have both of his arms fully amputated. As a result, daily tasks that were once so simple turned into major obstacles for him. From using the bathroom, to opening a door or turning off a light, Luis needed assistance in just about every room throughout his home.

Shirley Ryan Ability Lab in Chicago, ILWith the advancements in technology, Luis and his wife knew there had to be some products that could make daily tasks easier for Luis. After doing some research on organizations that could potentially provide them some sort of assistance, they reached out to the Inside of Shirley Ryan Ability Lab in downtown Chicago, ILShirley Ryan Abilitiy (SRA) Lab. The SRA Lab is a rehabilitation research hospital located in downtown Chicago that was designed for patient care and education. It is an excellent resource for those who need to regain their abilities after suffering from a traumatic injury.

After talking to a caseworker at SRA Chicago, Luis and his wife were recommended to contact ATF Medical, a company that assists people with catastrophic workplace injuries. After ATF did some research, they found EHLS/Lifeway Mobility Chicago and suggested Luis reach out to us for assistance with bathroom modifications and smart tech products.

Amazon Alex sitting on desk in house
Amazon Alexa is utilized throughout entire home

As a company that installs home mobility equipment and modifies bathrooms for safe access, smart tech products were sort of outside of our realm. However, to allow Luis to gain back some of his freedom and independence at home, we gladly agreed to assist with installing those products, in addition to the bathroom modifications.

In the next two sections, you’ll learn about the challenges that Luis faced and how they were solved with bathroom modifications and the installation of a variety of smart home tech products. Luis kindly took the time to answer the questions below.

Mobility Challenges

  • What rooms in the home were the most difficult to navigate as a result of his catastrophic injuries?

It became difficult to safely navigate throughout the entire home because of the injuries. Luis was unable to do much on his own and always required the assistance of his wife or one of his kids.

  • Overall, what were the major issues that led that led to you to seek out a provider of home accessibility solutions and the smart home tech products?

Being unable to use the bathroom and bathe independently were the major issues. He said “I could not be left alone at home because of that and would have to wake her (his wife) up during the night if I needed to use the bathroom”.  It was hard for him to have any privacy and he felt bad having to wake his wife up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

Solutions

  • How have the smart home tech products improved day-to-day life?

The bathroom modifications and new products that are integrated with Alexa have been extremely helpful. He said “Everything is a lot easier and more accessible to me on a daily basis. There’s still some room for improvement though, such as the switches and rings that are not yet hardwired.”

The switches that he is referring to enable him to control the lights and outlets through Alexa. He can easily turn certain products off/on by his voice. The rings allow him to see who is at his front/back door, and speak with the person without having to get up and open the door, which is extremely difficult for him.

smart-tech-light-switches
voice activated light switches
smart-tech-doorbell-with-camera
smart tech "ring" doorbell with camera

 

 

  • What are the top 3 solutions that have been the most beneficial for you?

While all of the products that have been purchased have made a difference for Luis, the three most notable products that he identified to be the most impactful were the following:

  • motion-activated-bidet-and-toilet
    motion activated bidet/toilet
    Bidet – A hands free basin located next to the toilet that is used to clean yourself after using the bathroom. The automatic bidet that we installed for Luis is activated by a pressure sensor that goes off once he sits on the seat of the bidet. Both the bidet and toilet are controlled through built-in motion sensors.
  • Shower Modifications – There were several shower modifications made to enable Luis to shower safely and independently:
    • Smart Shower – All of the features are controlled through voice, which enables Luis to control sets of sprayers and the water temperature through a controller that is installed just outside of the shower.               
    • full-body-pedal-activated-dryer
      full body pedal activated dryer
      Full Body Dryer – The dryer pushes out a large amount of hot air, greatly reducing how much drying (with a towel) is needed when finished showering. There is a foot pedal located at the bottom of the dryer that starts/stops the flow of air when activated.
    • Upgraded Sprayers – Rather than having just one shower head, there are a total of 4 body sprayers and the shower head. This allows for easier cleaning as he is unable to  move his body easily.
  • Hooks – Luis had these installed near the toilets to assist him with getting his clothes on and off. They are mounted to the wall and allow him to hook his pants on them so he can use the bathroom independently.

 A couple of other notable improvements that he mentioned during the conversation were the hardwired doorbell and blinds.

List of Home Tech Products Installed by Room/Location

Below is a full list of the smart home tech products that we installed to enable Luis to gain back some of independence in the house that he’s called home the past several years. We also briefly describe each one of the products and how Luis utilizes them every day.

General

  • Alexa – Amazon’s smart home system is utilized by Luis to integrate many of the products throughout the home. The Alexa system enables him to use his voice to do many daily tasks.
  • Voice/Touch Switches – The voice/touch-activated auto light switches allow him to turn lights on and off throughout the home. The lights are paired with Alexa and then activated by the voice when someone enters a room.
  • smart-light-bulb
    smart light bulb
    Smart Bulbs (colored or standard white) – While they are integrated with Alexa for Luis, the smart bulbs do not require a voice or touch switch. They can be turned on and off through any switch by his wife and kids.
  • Smart Outlets – Two permanent, standard outlets are used in the bathroom by Luis. He has a bathroom mirror with a built-in light/speaker that he can control through an outlet. Anything can be plugged into these outlets to allow him to easily turn them on/off when he needs. Rather than having to unplug the products every time, he can just leave them plugged in and shut down the entire outlet.
  • Hubs – Hubs throughout the home connect all smart products to Alexa and other apps. All smart products require a hub in order to work properly.
  • Touch Locks – Deadbolts that can be controlled through voice activation and by touch if the key fob is on the customer. Luis keeps the key in his pocket so that he can lean down and touch his forehead to the lock to engage/disengage the locking mechanism.
  • Smart Power Strips – The smart power strips that we installed are plugged into the wall and can be controlled through Alexa to turn off or on the products that are plugged into it. These are not permanent, which gives Luis and his family the option to move the strips and products to any location in the home.

Bathroom

  • automatic toothpaste and soap dispensers
    automatic toothpaste and soap dispensers
    Auto-Flush – Allows for Luis to lean over the toilet tank to automatically flush the toilet. They are sensitive enough to sense a body movement over it to flush the toilet. This, in combination with the bidet, has allowed Luis to use the bathroom by himself again.
  • Toothpaste Dispenser – As simple as putting your toothbrush under the dispenser to get toothpaste. it measures out a perfect amount of toothpaste to be dispensed. One of Luis’ family members assists him with brushing his teeth.
  • Similar to a commercial soap dispenser, the smarthome automatic soap dispenser is motion activated. The amount of soap dispensed can be changed by the switches located on top of the dispenser.
  • Touch Faucets – These faucets can be controlled by Alexa or through touch. For Luis, he can use his voice to turn the faucet on and off and change the temperature of the water. He also can measure out exact measurements of water by communicating to Alexa a voice command like the following “Alexa dispense 2 cups of water”.
  • Voice Controlled Shower – A Moen U smart shower enables him to turn the shower on and off, decide which sprayers are being used, and change the temperature of the water all through voice commands given to Alexa.
  • Voice Controlled Mirrors – Luis uses voice lighted mirrors that are integrated with Alexa and a Bluetooth speaker that plays music or ambient sounds.
  • Tornado Dryer – A full-body dryer installed in the corner of the shower that blows hot air at high speeds to dry Luis when he is done bathing. It is controlled by a foot pedal that was installed on the base of the shower.
full body tornado dryer
tornado pedal-activated full body dryer
voice activated sprayers and shower head
voice activated sprayers and shower head

 

Living Area

  • Smart Thermostat – Allows for Luis and his family to control the temperature of the house through an app and through Alexa. The smart thermostat has some other cool features like scheduling, fan control, and eco modes to help save energy. You can make changes to the temperature of your home from anywhere!
smart thermostat
smart thermostat integrated with Alexa

auto-ring-door-bell
auto ring door bell

Outside

  • Automatic Ringing Doorbell – The automatic ringing doorbell allows Alexa to alert a family member when someone is at the front or back door of the home. They also have a built-in camera to record video of the area near the doorbell. Once someone rings the bell, the phones integrated with the doorbell receive an alert and a live video begins to play, to show the user who is at the front door.

Bonus Smart Tech Home Products 

These products were not added to this customer’s home, but may be ones that you want to consider to make life easier for you, your friend, or loved one.

  • smart robot vacuum
    smart robot vacuum
    Camera Systems w/ Security Monitors
  • Garage Door Openers
  • Smart A/C Units
  • Smart Vacuums & Mops/Swiffer Sweepers
  • Smart Bed
  • Ceiling Fans
  • Wi-Fi Enabled Kitchen Appliances (microwaves, pressure cookers, etc.)
  • Essential Oil Diffuser
essential oil diffuser
essential oil diffuser

Please contact us if you're interested in scheduling a free in-home consultation to make your home safe and accessible!



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