Implementing assistive domotics is not always a simple process. This blog post will show how the integrator can make it a more pleasant experience to the end user.
A key component of Home Automation attractiveness is increasing the quality of life for the person using this technology. Traditional wisdom says that the more functionalities a system has the better the project is. This is why many systems built in an intelligent control under the same platform, enabling several interfaces on the same controller, with the aim of increasing their comfort.
However, for integrators who aim at providing assistive domotics, applying this principle is a big mistake; the value of this type of automation lies in the need for customization. The needs of the elderly are different to those of end users without reduced mobility.
Another important factor to consider is the pre-existing ideas this kind of users may have. Very often consumers of assistive domotics may be against to the very use of automated solutions – citing complexity and price as their main objections. So, how to overcome these challenges and build high-performance projects for this target market?
How can the integrator overcome these challenges and build high-performance projects for the various automation target audiences?
In this post, you will find the answer to that question, as well as the following information:
- How to create an attractive customer-friendly design for assistive automation
- How to develop an efficient cost-benefit automation project for the user
- How to use differentiated interfaces to make your assistive automation unique
IMPORTANCE OF INTEGRATED AUTOMATION DESIGN
The main factor for an efficient assistive domotics system is the layout of an integrated automation design. Many of the doubts surrounding this technology come from the multidisciplinary nature of an integrated home automation project.
Designs tend to be quite complex when they focus on accessibility. Decisions by the architects, integrators, and engineers, if not aligned, can render the functionality of an entire automation system unfeasible, and/or unpractical.
Regardless, the first step is a direct approach to the client through interviews and profile mapping. These tools will allow you to understand the client’s real needs, pains, and feelings regarding this technology. In practice, you will determine the end user’s history of energy consumption on a monthly or annual spectrum. After that, the user mobility routines are detailed, and the insights of this study are presented to the retirement or to the home construction industry.
This detailing will serve as a purchase decision factor for the user. Features that serve the elderly will not always work for users with reduced mobility, so each project is unique. Convincing the end user to make the transition to an automated home can be greatly helped by explaining some general or specific benefits:
- General (cost-benefit reduction of house costs, real estate valuation, residential security).
- Specific (autonomy or independence, convenience, interactivity through voice commands, ease of living).
In addition, it is up to the integrator – the person selling the system – to simplify the product to the customer. The customer will not understand all functions or terminology (for example, some aspects of sustainability or usability). These relatively recent terms can be better understood by talking about reducing energy costs and adjusting automation scenes.
COST-BENEFIT OF RESIDENTIAL AUTOMATION
The greatest benefit of smart homes is undoubtedly the savings in energy and water consumption. It is estimated that a home automation project has the potential to reduce spending by up to 30% on household bills. An impressive increase in efficiency, considering that this value is equivalent to an initial 10% of the cost of automation infrastructure. Albeit, investments will vary depending on many variables, like the accessibility project.
Every integrated residential automation project has scalability. Both because of its integrated aspect (so that new features can be progressively added), and its technical complexity. This is another important factor to take into consideration: the higher the budget for the project, the greater the functionality offered.
This does not mean that an efficient project requires a lot of money! In assistive domotics, the most relevant variable is customization. The cost will depend essentially on the type of system chosen, and its ability to reflect the user’s demands.
Today, the best automation solutions provide flexibility for controlling areas of any size. Wireless systems lessen the need for refurbishing the home, consequently reducing the price. Another advantage of wireless solutions – especially in compare to integrated designs – lies in the fact that it simplifies the work of engineers, by allowing the control of scenes within the range of the WiFi switches, the placement of interfaces becomes simpler.
This is especially relevant in assistive technology. Wireless interfaces can be configured as shortcuts for daily routines, for example, increasing or decreasing the lighting can be greatly simplified. All these principles are aligned with the notion of universal-design.
INTERFACES THAT MAKE EVERYTHING EASIER
Current projects rely on incorporating interfaces that allow interaction with the users, regardless of their physical limitations. The objective is to simplify the use of automation without stigmatizing the user. Some home automation products are incorporating the principles of assistive technology into their development, so that they can be used by kinds of users. A prime example is the use of voice assistants that have multiple applications in our daily life.
Scene adjustment and specific commands for audio, video and lighting devices reduces spatial locomotion. Other features allow the user to see the temperature and lighting of any room inside the house. Everything depends on the degree of integration of the residence, the distribution of sensors and data transmission.
House control is also available for voice-recognition devices. For example, Google Home is now able to make phone calls and interact with various applications. Amazon Echo – a device compatible with Neocontrol solutions – offers various services, such as Amazon itself and Uber.
These interfaces are part of the benefits previously mentioned, but also add others such as:
- Social inclusion: devices put customers in communication with relatives and friends
- Health care: scheduling for medication schedules and events
- Entertainment: access to movie and music applications
In short, the future of assistive domotics, and the introduction of the Internet of Things will incorporate accessibility to the environment. Increased connectivity and interoperability between devices will allow full customization to integrated automation projects. The professionals involved in this task will have to rethink the physical space, contemplating it as a network of infrastructure with multiple access possibilities.
However, returning to the reality of today’s smart houses, we emphasize the importance of prioritizing user demands for the projects developed. The development of lean structures, adapted to the budget of the client is possible. The use of wireless systems is a case in point, as it considerably reduces de cost involved in automation. Additionally, these type of platforms simplify the process of selling and installing for the new players in the market, such as lighting and security resellers and architects and engineers.