Increasing numbers of people are incorporating smart home technology into their everyday life. An article in TechCrunch.com points out that smart home assistants are able to help homeowners control many everyday tasks and that this could be particularly helpful for people with accessibility problems.
For people who currently struggle to do simple everyday tasks such as turning on a light or even opening a door, the ability to do so with just voice control offers great potential. Utilizing the latest technologies could make it far easier for people to remain at home unassisted for longer.
Using conventional home modifications such as lower countertops and handrails makes it much easier for people with visual or motor skill problems to remain safely at home, but combining these adjustments with a smart assistant could make their home environment even more comfortable and safer. This in turn can increase independence and dignity and will provide peace-of-mind for relatives or carers. For some, using this technology has already become a reality and is providing proven benefits. It also helps to show that home automation actually has a real purpose beyond just novelty value. People with disabilities who are utilizing this technology can end up feeling empowered and it could help increase self-esteem levels, which is every bit as important as being able to complete the task in hand.
However, the article does highlight potential problems with using home automation which is largely due to the limitations of teaching smart assistants to understand speech patterns. Anyone who has ever tried using voice recognition technology will recognize this difficulty, even if they don’t have any speech impediments. Often the artificial intelligence used in smart assistance will only understand the accents and speech patterns it’s been trained to decipher. A person with speech difficulties may struggle to make themselves fully understood. Using an app is one way around this problem, but for someone with a physical motor impairment this may not always be possible.
In spite of these problems, this type of technology is still in its very early days and is already exhibiting a huge amount of usefulness in increasing accessibility for people with disabilities and it can only improve in the future.