As mentioned before, home automation can be used by seniors who are aging in place. So, what is home automation? Essentially, it is simply a way to make things happen in your home, without (or with limited) input from you. In the sciences, it is called Assistive Domotics; automation technology used by the elderly or disabled. It can provide for remote or automatic control of devices or events in your home. Also, it can control what happens in reaction to an event in your home or notify you of an event.
For example, if the doorbell rings, the TV in the living room can switch to a video feed from the front door camera. Or, while you are away from home, it can tell you if a pipe breaks or an intruder is in your home. The system also can turn lights on down the stairs at night, open the garage door when you enter the driveway, monitor occupants to ensure they eat or take medications, and even send out notifications to family members if a person does not get out of bed.
Notifications from the system can be sent to your tablet, smartphone, system control iPad, television or other devices. The devices that interface with your system also can allow you to control the settings for your home automation system including, creating new event triggers and responses, schedules and so forth.
What is home automation : Basic information
The basic components of a home automation system include:
1. Controller – This is the brains of the system. It is where all of the information about what is controlled, how it is controlled and schedules are stored.
2. Devices – These are the things that are controlled with your system. Lights, security systems, curtains, thermostat, etc. The devices communicate using specific ‘protocols’ on a network (think of that as a language). So, you will have to use devices that use the same protocol. There also are add-on devices in some systems that can be plugged into outlets or screwed into bulb sockets, for example. These allow home automation systems to control lamps or other plug-in appliances.
3. Interface – This where you can interact with your system. It could be a keypad, smart phone, tablet or TV.
4. Network – This is where everything on your system can communicate with the controller. A number of network technologies are available, including hardwired (wires in the walls), WiFi (wireless networking), electrical wiring, infra-red or radio frequency.
The good news about home automation systems is that there are a lot of choices. However, it can be difficult to choose how to proceed with a home automation project.
Do-It-Yourself or Installed?
DIY systems are available from a variety of manufacturers, and they are sold through a large number of stores, both online and off. They can be purchased as packages (each package geared towards specific types of automation functionality) or as individual components. This is a good option if price is a major consideration. Depending on the technology used and complexity of your system, there may be a steep learning curve.
There is also the choice of using an installer who can help you plan the system, suggest best technologies or options and setup the system for you. For those not as adept at technology or who want more complex functionality, this may be a better choice. Many home automation installers have been trained and certified in these types of home technologies.
Before you start
As with most things, having a good plan is where you should start. Do some research and figure out what you would like to be able to do with your system and which options are available. Talk with a few installers about the technology and possibilities. Or, even friends who have systems to get their input on what they like, don’t like or things they wish they had done when they put their system in.