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Home automation for the elderly or disabled

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Today, home automation brings solutions to perform all the daily acts and allows to promote home maintenance. The electrician has a role to play in offering his client solutions adapted to his needs, according to his personal situation.

Facilitating motor skills and making travel safer

Thanks to home automation and in particular the automatic lighting and remote control functions, elderly people with disabilities can maintain a certain degree of autonomy. Senior citizens and people with disabilities are particularly exposed to the risk of domestic accidents. Falls are at the top of the list of accidents. They are the leading cause of death for elderly people at home. Automatically lighting a corridor, the entrance to a bathroom, a step or a staircase and, more generally, obstacles, makes moving around safer.

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Several solutions can meet this need: motion sensor, timer or lighting scene. In addition, the baseboard light strip with automatic switch-on guides the first few metres of a night-time movement. In some cases, a standard remote control allows the person to remotely operate the functions of the house. Sometimes, the pronounced disability leaves the person with only the use of a finger, head movement, or breath to act. Electrical equipment specialists are increasingly offering standardised links (e.g. with an infrared link) between teletheses and building automation control systems.

Maintaining the link with the outside world

For a person with fragile health or with difficulty moving around, the alert and communication medallion makes it possible to establish a permanent link with a relative or a remote assistance centre. This wireless technology ensures freedom of movement within the home or nearby within a radius of about 100 m.

Some medallions also make it possible to receive telephone calls and talk wherever you are. The Hands-Free Alert Medallion incorporates a speaker and microphone. You don’t have to wear it to hear or be heard. The TV set is an almost natural interface between the user and his/her home automation system. It is controlled by a remote control or a telethesis.

Sensors to save lives

On the technical safety side, people using gas for heating or cooking can have detectors installed in storage or use areas to warn the occupant in case of a leak. In the kitchen, the gas detector and its audible alarm will prevent accidental leaks or mishandling. The gas leak detection, coupled with the acceleration of the CMV , can be combined with a telephone transmitter to alert a neighbour or an outside service. On the same system, the water leak detector can be used to activate a solenoid valve. This prevents slipping and reduces the risk of falling.

Thanks to the smoke detector, an accidental start of fire can be detected as early as possible, even before the toxic fumes take effect. Placed in the most appropriate places, especially in bedrooms, these detectors are designed to sound the alarm when the occupants are most vulnerable, i.e. while they are sleeping. The smoke detector can be coupled with an automatic shutter opening system, to facilitate possible outside intervention.

Solutions for sensory disorders and access control

A large number of equipment and facilities are available that can considerably simplify the daily lives of elderly or disabled people and offer them a high degree of security in their homes. There are many solutions that can be offered to them: video technology, sound and light signalling on door stations, direct code keypads for name plates, induction loops for hearing aids on in-house telephones, etc.

Another effective solution is to announce a visitor by means of a light signal in the main rooms using powerline emulated accessories. Combined with a keypad, intercom or video intercom, the indicator light draws the attention of the occupants of the dwelling.

Facilitating access to living areas and communication

Securing access and preventing any intrusion is a fundamental need to ensure the serenity of people over the age of 60. Moreover, to maintain the social link, access to housing must not be a barrier between the occupant and the outside world. The fear of being abused by a visitor or the impairment of one or more senses such as sight or hearing can quickly drive the elderly person away from contact with potential visitors. Videophony gives seniors the freedom to choose whether or not to let the visitor in. The high quality colour image, presented on a large screen, provides clear information about the person’s identity. At the level of the interior video doorphone, a magnetic loop ensures that any occupant equipped with a hearing aid is able to amplify the signal. The marriage between home automation and videophony now makes it possible to transfer the visitor’s call to project his image on a television screen or more simply to allow conversation on a telephone.

The installation of a biometric reader also makes it possible to secure the entrance to one’s home, which is then done by placing a finger on a sensor. Enrolling the fingerprints of people occupying the premises is an effective solution to prevent any stranger from entering without authorization. Access control solutions using badges, developed for tertiary applications, are now adapted to the home. Applied to one or more doors and managed by radio frequency identification (RFID) badges, locks with standard dimensions can prevent any manipulation of keys. Above all, they can be used to program access by name to professionals providing regular service to the occupant of the dwelling (people in charge of home care, cleaning or meals). Lost or not handed over to the manager when the person stops visiting, the badge can be quickly deactivated.

Similarly, when they leave their home, elderly people can secure it by means of a judiciously configured alarm control unit, in connection with the housing’s other automated functions. By operating a single command when leaving the home, the alarm can be activated, the roller shutters can be closed, or a program can be started to randomly switch on a few lights to simulate a presence. To protect your home from possible night-time intrusions, programming a scenario allows you to place the ground floor of your home under alarm at night and activate all the lights in the event of a break-in or simply an approach within a defined perimeter around the house. The programming and recording of a life scenario simplifies the use of the touch screen and avoids multiple manipulations.

This talk is part of the IoT series.

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