Control your home security via an app

Action24 intruder alarm app
The Internet of Things (IoT) has brought about a fundamental change in the way we use technology. There are many potential benefits of the IoT for people with disabilities.
For example, someone who is blind or has a mobility-related disability can monitor and control their home heating thermostat through an accessible smartphone interface, or they can have their door automatically unlock when they approach it.
Managing intruder alarms has typically been quite inaccessible as they tend to be installed in inaccessible areas and have inaccessible touch panels. A Dublin-based company, Action24 has bucked this trend by designing an intruder alarm which can be accessed via an app installed on their Tablet or Smartphone.

Action24 HomeTouch panel intruder alarm
The main part of the intruder alarm is the HomeTouch™ panel which controls all devices. Once the panel has been installed, further devices can be included such as IP CCTV cameras, smoke detectors and wireless carbon monoxide detectors for enhanced protection of your home. Any activations will be reacted upon in Action24’s monitoring centre and the devices are viewable also on the Action24 app.

Man approaching house
It is also possible to integrate the control of your lights or other electrical devices from your Action24 App. You can pair a Z-wave plug with the panel and you will be able to control the lamp or other electronic device connected to the Z-wave plug. The connected devices will then appear on your App and are controllable at all times, whether you are at home or away. A very useful option when you’re on holidays!

table lamp switched on

How much does it cost?

€500 for the panel, €200 for the smoke detector and wireless carbon monoxide detector, €100 for IP camera, €35/month for monitoring.

 How do you control alarm and home devices?

Active24 have partnered with alarm.com to bring together home security and automation app for your home.   Their App is available for iPhoneiPad, Apple Watch and any Android device.

What is monitoring?

Monitoring is done by trained operators in a 24/7 Alarm Receiving Centre.  Nominated keyholders/emergency services will receive a call from operators when activations occur. The monitoring fee is a requirement for this company.

 

The good: It’s an intruder alarm that’s accessible.

The not so good: A bit expensive if you are looking for the full array of additional features and extras.

The verdict: A good option for anyone who wants security and smart home control from the one app.

Alternatives: Considering the relatively high cost of this system and the monthly cost of monitoring it may be beyond the budget for some users.  Monitoring will definitely enhance the security of your home or premises, however, there are other alternatives that avoid the monitoring fees.

An alternative without a monitoring fee is to use a Z-Wave controller such as the VeraPlus advanced home controller for €190.  You can have similar Z-Wave window €50 and motion €60 sensors and cameras, carbon monoxide (CO) €85 and smoke detectors €70 which can be configured when activated to sound a siren or send a customized Text message to three mobile numbers using a SMS Controlled Switch €145.  You also have the options to control heating systems and lighting.  The full control of the alarm and smart home devices in a similar way as the Activate24 is available via an app.

A Free 24-Hour Online Community Event On Accessibility

calendar date 9th June

Part of keyboard with Access label on one key

 

 

 

 

 

Inclusive Design 24 celebrates efforts worldwide to ensure people with disabilities have full and equal access to the web.

They will be holding 24 free one-hour webinars on all things accessibility. The sessions range from beginner to advanced and are aimed at everyone from executives to web developers.

 How to join:

 No sign-up. No registration. All sessions will be streamed live and publicly on YouTube – see the entire playlist for the event. Live captions for each session will be available.

Have a question for a presenter? No problem! Tweet your questions to @paciellogroup using the #ID24 hashtag and moderators will make sure they get them answered for you.

Visit the ID24 website to learn more!

Sponsored by The Paciello Group

 

Controlling your home appliances with you voice

You know a particular technology is fast approaching mainstream when every manufacturer seems to be developing add-ons to make their products work with it.

From Samsung’s SmartThings to August Smart Home Locks, 3rd-party developed skills are voice experiences that add to the capabilities of any Alexa-enabled device (such as the Echo). For example “Alexa, set the Living Room lights to warm white” or “Alexa, lock the front door.” These skills are available for free download. Skills are continuously being added to increase the capabilities available to the user.smart controlled lock on a door

smart controlled lighting in a living room

he Amazon Echo is a smart speaker developed by Amazon. It is tall cylinder speaker with a built-in microphone. The device connects to the voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant service Alexa, which answers to the name “Alexa”. The device is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic, and other real-time information
However, it can also control many smart devices using itself as a home automation hub.
The videos below give an example of using your voice with smart home products.
https://youtu.be/V7WfxI3ecVI
https://youtu.be/pH8fg1noIj0

The good: As far as price goes, the Amazon Echo comes in various forms, the
Amazon Echo Dot costs £44.99 which seems affordable. All the Amazon skills that add to the capabilities of any Alexa-enabled device are free.

The not so good: Requires internet connection to work. If your internet goes down then your ability to control the devices around you also does too.

The verdict: A good way to dip your toe in the Internet of Things waters, more capabilities on the way.

ATEC (Assistive Technology Exhibition and Conference) – London June 6th

ATEC written in front of a blue solid circle

This conference may be of interest,  it is aimed at disability professionals involved in post education and the workplace, ATEC is a one-day event that allows you to listen to and meet with experts, solution providers, and other like-minded people.

40 organizations from the world of assistive technology attending and 150 professionals from the workplace and post education.

  • Choose to attend 4 seminars from a range of 16, and gain a CPD certificate for each session attended.
  • Lunchtime speed dating sessions – 3 back-to-back 15-minute presentations.
    Two parallel panel debate sessions covering the themes of Education and the Workplace.
  • Network with disability professionals from post education and the workplace.
  • Two topical keynote speeches.
  • DSA (Disabled Students’ Allowance) update.

http://www.ateconference.com/

Mounting Assistive Technology Documentation (MAT-DOC)

Mount'n Mover, wheelchair mounting system holding a camera

To use technology effectively it needs to be at an optimal position for our use. Whether it’s a computer display, tablet computer, or even the chair we sit on, the position of items we use is important for ease of use and comfort. For someone with a physical disability this is even more important as their ability to reach, grasp, hold or interact with physical objects may be limited. Mounting can improve the overall view and the ability to manipulate the controls of the device.

There is now a range of mounting solutions available from mounting arms to modular mounting kits.

We need to consider a range of things when mounting assistive technology, to ensure technology can be used effectively in a range of environments and contexts to meet the lifestyle needs of the user.

Some very useful documentation is now available. It is designed for service providers and others who are involved with attaching one piece of assistive technology, such as a communication device to another, such as a wheelchair. It’s designed to help ensure all relevant aspects have been considered to ensure the best solution is reached.

This best practice guidelines documentation is available for general use at http://mat-doc.org/

MAT-doc also includes Best Practice Guidelines which have been developed by a team of people who are all actively involved with mounting assistive technology.

These guidelines are intended to promote and facilitate independence and participation and not as a mechanism to find barriers to the provision of equipment.

It is based on the Mounting Assistive Technology Documentation (MAT-DOC)

Eye gaze controlled Power wheelchair

eye controlled wheelchair via tablet mounted on wheelchair

EyeTech Digital Systems, has partnered with Quantum Rehab to bring eye controlled wheel chairs to individuals who are unable to use hand controls. EyeTech’s eye tracking technology mounts directly to a tablet PC and allows the user to control the entire computer using eye movements. The system then mounts to the wheelchair. An eye control driving app gives the user the ability to drive hands-free. The driving controls are overlaid on the scene camera.  Simply looking at the driving controls activates them to control the basic directions and movements of the chair.

Quantum Rehab® products, including a range of rehab mobility technologies such as the Q6 Edge® 2.0 and Quantum Series of power bases. www.QuantumRehab.com.

EyeTech Digital Systems products include eye tracking technology for a variety of markets such as medical, transportation, entertainment, and augmentative communication http://www.eyetechds.com/

Irish suppliers

LC Seating and MMS Medical.

Low-cost phone and tablet holders

It’s hard to beat the quality of mounting equipment offered by mounting suppliers such as Dassey or Rehadapt or even mainstream suppliers like Ram Mounts.  These mounting systems are designed to keep your hardware safe, made to last and they look good.

However, these mounting solutions also tend to be expensive and may be far from the budget of a user who may just require a second mount to take here and there with them.

There are many options for low-cost mounts that still provide the function of holding your phone or tablet so you can use it effectively.

Many low-cost mounts can be found on Amazon, eBay or even bought from supermarket chains such as Aldi or Lidl.  So it’s worth keeping an eye out as some of these products sell for as little as a few euro.

An example of mount recently bought from Lidl for €4.  It comprises of a spring loaded cradle, goose neck and spring loaded clamp. Although it will not take excessive pressure, but it works quite well for holding a phone at eye level for light touch screen use.

Low cost mount from lidl

Other online examples can be seen here

Adjustable Tablet Stand Holder Foldable

http://www.gearbest.com/iphone-mounts-holders/pp_262179.html?currency=EUR&vip=764180&gclid=CLyhn7aF8tECFam17QodPdQLTA

Breett Universal Phone Holder

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Breett-Universal-Flexible-Gooseneck-Bathroom-x/dp/B00ZF4DZSU/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1486059989&sr=8-7&keywords=phone+holder

 

New website to support people to use keyboard shortcuts

Girl typing on computer keyboard

Sharon’s Shortcuts is a new educational resource for people who primarily use keyboard shortcuts to access a computer.  The site contains different sections covering common tasks carried out using a PC.  All the keyboard shortcuts mentioned in this site are standard, Windows shortcuts that anyone can use.

While it’s easy to find plenty of tutorials and step by step instructions for using a PC that are mouse-based, this unique website gives step by step instructions on using a PC without the mouse making it a useful resource for screen reader users.

Sharon has over 10 years experience supporting people with a vision impairment and also provides One to One Tutoring Sessions for specific IT skills, getting to grips with work based systems, or a program of study towards a qualification like ECDL.

In this blogpost Sharon discusses her website http://sharons-shortcuts.ie/ and her tutoring services.

Listen to Sharon’s blogpost

Now Amazon Alexa can be used with Harmony hub remote

Amazon Echo is a smart speaker developed by Amazon.com. The device consists of a 9.25-inch (23.5 cm) tall cylinder speakerNow Amazon Alexa can be used with any Harmony hub-based remote, such as Harmony Elite or Harmony Companion. You can say “Alexa, turn on the TV”

Amazon have three products, the Echo, Dot, and Tap that all have Alexa Voice Service. Users access music, information, news, sports scores, weather, and more. There is a growing number of smart home devices and applications that work with these devices that will enable greater access, especially for people with physical disabilities. One new product Echo works with is Logitech’s Harmony Hub. The Harmony Hub and app allows users to control multiple appliances on one digital device. People can use their smartphone, tablet, or Echo to control lights, stereos, the television, and more.
To use the Echo and Harmony Hub as a hands-free remote users must link the two devices together. One way to link the two devices is through the use of IFTTT, a free web-based service. Once all of these components are linked together, users can control devices, such as a television, with their voice.
Here is a quick video demonstrating the two devices and IFTTT working together.
https://youtu.be/l7BE7lNkVPY

Accessible Apps, Games and Toys

range of children's toys

Enable Ireland’s National Assistive Technology Service has gathered together information on a range of accessible toys. It includes a variety of accessible games, apps, and toys. These are not recommendations but simply a selection of items which may be of interest, particularly at times such as Christmas and birthdays, when presents are high on the list of priorities.

Available here https://goo.gl/QpcD1z