Working for People with Sight Loss

Smart Home Technology – The Practical Benefits

Image of different devices, like tablet, smartphone, smart lamps etc.

We are all aware at this stage of smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home assistant. It’s always a good idea to hear how they can be used in our day to day lives as someone living with a visual impairment.

Smart speakers can be activated with your voice by saying the wake word ‘Alexa’ or ‘Hey Google’.

I use these devices every day to do things like:

  • Ask for the weather forecast
  • Set a reminder
  • Set a timer
  • Play music from a subscription service such as Spotify or Amazon Music
  • Play an audiobook from Audible
  • Play a podcast
  • Play a radio station
  • Read me the news
  • Turn on and off lights when paired with smart light bulbs

Smart home technology comes into its own when you pair these speakers/assistants with other devices to create a personal independent living space in your home.

For example, you can control your heating by pairing your smartphone or smart assistant with a Nest thermostat. This allows you to turn on or off your heating independently, set a timer and set the right temperature for you. You can also work it remotely when you are away from your home. Other thermostats are available but I find this one to be the most accessible.

Another very good addition to your connected home is a video doorbell such as a Nest Hello Doorbell or the Ring Video Doorbell. These doorbells can be used to monitor who is at your front door before you open it. You can talk to whoever is outside using your smart speaker. These products give you added security and make you feel less vulnerable. They also make it easier to deal with cold callers and other nuisance visitors.

A final example, I use SmartThings App from Samsung. I have connected this to a Samsung smart washing machine and for the first time, this has opened all the features of a washing machine for people with a vision impairment. Rather than just having a bump on 40 degrees and pressing start, you can connect your machine to the SmartThings app on your phone and go through the different cycles such as cotton, wool, dark, delicates etc. You can select your preferred temperature and then click start.

These are just a few examples of how I used technology to make my home more accessible. If you want to know more about how Smart Technology can help you in your day to day life and be more independent call the NCBI Labs Helpdesk and arrange a demo.