I am THAT person who until recently finally retired her old Nokia brick phone and gave in to the “smart” world. I liked the idea that I wasn’t reachable in 20 different ways and I didn’t have the ability to be consumed into social media so easily. Yes, I will admit it was kind of annoying to not be able to see photos my friends texted me or easily search Yelp for a good place to eat… and my sister who lived in another state was tired of giving me driving directions when I was lost. I was lugging around a laptop for work when I travelled when most of it could be done via smart phone….why did I wait so long?
It turns out my smart phone made my quadriplegic-life easier from using voice-to-text, taking high-quality photos on voice command, returning emails, not getting lost, answering phone calls, reading a book, searching for a date, and watching movies!
I have recently discovered other smart technology for my home and I couldn’t be more excited…really…ask my friends and family. All I’ve been talking about for a month is my smart lightbulbs! I saw a link to WINK on Facebook and it opened my eyes to other smart solutions that could make my day better and easier. So here goes:
Lightbulbs: I have lamps in my living room that due to my limited dexterity I was not able to turn on/off by myself. So, if I was home alone I would normally remain in other rooms where I could easily reach the light switch. I bought some GE smart bulbs and now with an app on my phone I can easily turn the lamps on/off and dim them as well.
Doors: Locks are operated by app or Bluetooth technology. Personal attendants (PA) help me at different times of the day and I don’t usually give them a key. I come to the door when they arrive or if I am out we coordinate to arrive at the same time. When I am running late they have to wait for me outside or in the car. Smart locks make it easy to unlock the door remotely or if I’m in bed I can unlock the door with my phone from bed.
Blinds: I like closing blinds when it’s dark out but in my wheelchair and with furniture in the way, it’s difficult to close so I spend my time in another room. In the summers my home office gets a lot of sun and heats up quick, again, I can’t reach the blinds so I leave them open and turn on a fan or AC. My next purchase will be the blinds. It will make me feel safer when it’s dark and maybe save me some money on electricity bill.
Thermostat: Speaking of saving money on utilities, smart thermostats can be controlled via your phone or set up on timers. Having a spinal cord injury and a messed up internal thermostat I am always cold or can easily overheat. Some units have sensors in multiple rooms so you can adjust the temperatures of the rooms you spend most time in. Also it could be nice to save on my energy bills by programming schedules.
I might be a little late in the game to come upon these technologies but I think they are great! They may not have been designed or developed with the consumer with disabilities in mind but they really have the potential to improve some aspects of our lives. Hurray for technology!
By Reveca Torres