In the previous post https://studentblogski.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/smart-home-vist-i/, I highlighted some of the interesting devices and solutions found in one of two models we got to see during our study visit. That model was aiming to increase the quality of life for relatively younger people who have physical disabilities or some psychological disorders and who are more used to using smartphones, tablets and more complex forms of technological solutions.
In the next two posts(many things to include and talk about in details), I’m going to highlight some of the solutions in the other model which targets the elder people (with/without disabilities) and who are not capable of using something as sophisticated as a tablet or a smartphone or a Smart TV.
Let me show you first how the whole building where those apartments are located. As you can see from the picture, it just looks like any other apartment building you get to see on the streets. From the inside though, it does have all the required tools to improve the quality of life of a considerable number of people.
Getting inside the apartment, the first thing that attracted my attention was that the floor felt very soft. I wondered whether suddenly my pair of shoes became softer or that there was something special behind that feeling. Once our guide started to speak, she asked us “Have you felt something different about the floor?”. The answer was definitely yes without an exception. She explained that they use a very special type of floor covering that was inspired by NASA’s technology used in rockets and space shuttles. This type of soft floor would reduce the impact of falling (common problem among elderly people) resulting in less possibilities of fractures or other physical damages.
Moving to the bedroom, many controls and measures of assistance are at the reach of the person who lives there.
As you can see in the pictures, there’s a phone which has big buttons in order for those with poor eyesight to see them without visual assistance. There are also pictures of people (could be relatives or close friends or care givers) which blink when these people call and the user can call them directly by pressing on their pictures. This is very beneficial for those with dementia or who tend to forget numbers and where they saved them. It’s more or less like speed dial, but with pictures to aid the user who has difficulties associating names to looks.
There is another watch-like device which the elderly person can wear. This device notifies the care givers in case the person left the safety area that is predefined (could be the building or the apartment or the garden surrounding the place…etc). This is very useful for the people who are in danger of easily getting lost and tend to go out without the help of a care giver.
There is also that device which looks like a mobile phone. This is actually a very easy to use controller and mobile phone that can take care of a lot of functions by very few presses. The device itself has a touchscreen with very simple user interface. No messy screens or extra apps or text are included. Just big icons which are actually simple pictures demonstrating what each of those icons can do. By pressing on those icons the user can lock/unlock the door, turn off/on the lights, turn on/off the TV or radio, set up an alarm, make calls or even send SMSs using a very powerful word prediction technique. Now for users who have problems with touchscreens, there are buttons with arrows allowing them to navigate and pick the icons (controls) of their desire instead of using the touchscreen. Users can also check their e-mail using this device which connects to the internet using Wi-Fi.
Above the bed, there are well hidden supporting tools that are used to support the body in case of fractures or injuries. Unlike the ones that are currently used in hospitals, these ones can be used then folded back to their place, thus giving more space and decreasing the relatively depressive form of such beds.
The bed itself has the already available options of being adjustable to different heights and positions. In addition to that, the quilt has heavy additives (just like the one mentioned in the previous post), but in this case, they are heavier and in the form of small balls. It is heavier than the previously mentioned example giving an even better sensation of security.
There are also special sensors close to the floor that automatically turns some lights on (leading to the bathroom or kitchen) once the person moves his/her feet from the bed closer to the floor
On the wall close to the bed, there is that simple looking, yet very useful board that has a clock representing both day and night (read light is for day and blue is for night). The important activities such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee hour, group reading, training or a walk…etc are highlighted beside the time line using either writing or pictures representing the event. Of course all these approaches are very useful for both people with poor vision and memory.
I’ll take a break now and in the final and upcoming post I’ll give more details about the bathroom and the remaining parts of the apartment 🙂