Home Automation for Seniors

Assisted living facilities offer an appealing solution for many seniors, but smart home automation can make independent living comfortable and help with the everyday tasks of home management. From smart thermostats and light switches that respond to the sound of your voice to refrigerators that restock themselves, stock up on these smart devices to keep you or your loved one in your home for longer. Door Locks and Security Systems Smart door locks and security system technology is at the forefront of the independent living initiative. It’s the top tool to protect your home and give your family peace of mind. A smart security system allows your family to monitor entrance activity to your home, so they’ll always know you’re safe. Smart door locks let you lock your door no matter where you are. Give multiple security codes to caregivers and family members so you never have to worry about leaving spare keys or being away when visitors swing by. Smart Doorbell Most smart doorbells come with video surveillance, speakers and microphones for added home protection. Communicate with visitors from anywhere inside of your home to let them know that you’re available and on your way to greet them. If you’re hearing impaired, set up vibrational alerts on your smartphone so you’re always alerted when someone’s at the front door. In case of suspicious activity, view and record visitors at your door from your smartphone or tablet. Wifi Enabled Refrigerators Your smart refrigerator keeps track of your grocery list and delivers it to a participating grocery store near you. When you’re ready to see what you have on-hand, view the inside of your refrigerator from an app on your smartphone and receive notifications if your refrigerator needs maintenance. Automatic Stove Turn-Off Devices Have you ever wondered if you remembered to turn the stove off after you’ve left your home? Home automation technology could be your solution. Automatic Stove turn-off devices come with a timer, motion sensors and an automatic shut-off feature to ensure that your kitchen equipment powers down when you want it to. Set a time limit of up to 40 minutes, and your stove will automatically power down for your safety and convenience. Automatic Medication Dispenser You rely on your medications to keep you at your best. Automatic medication dispensers can ensure all of your medications are taken on schedule and according to the doctor’s orders. Your dispenser alerts you or your family of missed medications and even provides your physician with detailed reports regarding your medication activity. Smart Home Hub Living on your own is simple and convenient with a central smart home hub to command all of your smart devices. Sync your smart thermostat, entertainment system, light switches and more to your smart home hub to connect all your smart devices to a central all-in-one unit. You’ll be able to control all of your technology from the comfort of your living or bedroom. Also, easily give your family quick access to all your smart devices whenever they come to visit. Smart Thermostat Enhance the quality of living in your home with a thermostat that learns from your behaviors and gives you remote access. Conveniently pre-program your smart thermostat for when indoor or outdoor temperatures reach a certain degree and save money by tracking your energy consumption as you go. Many Smart Thermostats use easy-to-read LCD touch screens for effortless use, while standard thermostats can be confusing or difficult to read. Access your Smart Thermostat using your smartphone or connect to your smart home assistant for voice-controlled use. Key Finders When you’re ready to head out the door, losing your keys can be frustrating. Now you can locate your keys and other essentials you misplace using your smartphone or tablet. Most key finders come with a two-piece system: one that attaches to the items you lose track of the most and one to keep on your person. Attach the device to your keys, the remote control or your wallet or purse. Smart Light Switch Don’t worry about fumbling around your home in the dark. Control the lights in your home using timers or voice command with the help of your smart home assistant or via an app on your smartphone. These devices not only help shine a light when you need it most, they can also help cut energy costs and promote home security while you’re away. Health Monitoring Sensors Remote health monitoring is a non-invasive, cost effective method to receive healthcare services from the comfort of your home. Wearable health monitoring sensors communicate physiological data directly to your healthcare providers in real-time. Monitoring sensors can be worn in a variety of accessories to track heart health, exercise activity, chronic conditions and more.


Field Guide to Smart Homes

(Updated May 2017) Smart home devices, which allow the remote monitor and control of home features, are a booming industry with major players and mass adopters. Automation technologies have been around for decades (recall The Clapper (link is external)), and consumers can still purchase separate technologies to control thermostats, sprinkler appliances, or door locks. These days, Smart Home Hub systems are available to manage disparate functions through one centralized interface that can be accessed on a user’s smart phone or tablet. Homeowners and renters alike have taken notice. They want smart home devices for lots of different reasons, but security and energy management are among the most significant. Read on, and learn why some (link is external) say the global home automation market will be worth over $121.73 billion by 2020. (A. Creitz, Information & Web Content Specialist) Get to Know the Lingo There are several keywords used for this evolving industry: Internet of Things (IoT) Domotics Home automation Smart homes Intelligent homes Automated homes Wired homes Reasons for the Home Automation Boom, in a Nutshell “…the [home automation] market, experts agree, is growing, and rapidly. This growth is driven, in part, by the rising tablet market. Smart home DIYers have increasingly found the tablet as an effective remote control to manage all of the systems commonly found in a smart home. Additional drivers include the decreasing costs of smart technologies; increased government regulation regarding energy consumption; increased energy costs; increased consumer awareness of, and concern about, the environment; and consumer security concerns.” Source: The Smart Home: Intelligent Home Automation (link is external), (Entrepreneurial Insights, Aug. 22, 2014). The Basics When It Comes to Smart Homes, the Future Is Already Here: Why Creating a Connected Home Is Easier Than Ever (link is external), (Medium, Apr. 2017). How IoT & Smart Home Automation Will Change the Way We Live (link is external) (Business Insider, Dec. 2016). Six Benefits to Home Automation (link is external), (SenSi, July 2015). 2015 State of the Smart Home (link is external), (iControl, 2015). Home Automation Comes of Age (link is external), (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 17, 2015). Testing the Benefits of Smart Home Technology (link is external), (Property Management Insider, Jan. 10, 2015) House of the Future: How Automation Tech Is Transforming the Home (link is external), (Forbes, Oct. 10, 2013). The Advantages of a Smart House (link is external), (SFGate, n.d.) How to Get Started Best Smart Home Devices (link is external), (CNET, May 2017). Home Automation Buying Guide (link is external), (CNET, Apr. 2017). Smart Home Guides (link is external), (Amazon, 2017). How to Automate Your Home with These 8 Devices (link is external), (Inc., 2016). Quick Guide (link is external) (Choose Simple or Advanced Playbook for information about upgrading to a Smart Home, and get links to related products, companies, apps, reviews, and more.), (SmartHomeDB, 2015). Benefits: Energy Efficiency & Security Smart buildings: Energy Efficiency at What Price? (link is external), (, Feb. 2017). Smart Home Technology: 6 Gadgets That Will Increase Home Efficiency (link is external), (RealtyTimes, Sept. 2016). How Smart Homes Help Energy Efficiency (link is external), (CTA Blog, Dec. 2015). Smart Homes: Focus on Security and Efficiency, (REALTOR® Mag, July 2015). Nest Thermostat Pays for Itself in 2 Years, Studies Find (link is external), (Greentech, Feb. 2, 2015). Smart homes aim for consumers’ wallets as energy costs soar (link is external), (CNBC, Mar. 22, 2014). Home Automation for Seniors or Disabled For the Disabled, Smart Homes are Home Sweet Home (link is external), (Fortune, Feb. 1, 2015). Smart Home Sensors Could Help Aging Population Stay Independent (link is external), (Scientific American, Feb. 1, 2014). Smart-Home Technologies to Assist Older People to Live Well at Home (link is external), (Journal of Aging Science, 2013). Consumer Perspective on Home Automation Systems (link is external), (AARP, Dec. 2012). Security Issues With Home Automation Systems Amazon’s Camera-equipped Echo Look Raises New Questions About Smart Home Privacy (link is external), (TechCrunch, Apr. 2017). Consumers Are Wary of Smart Homes That Know Too Much (link is external), (NetworkWorld, Mar. 2017). Can Your Smart Home be Used Against You in Court? (link is external), (TechCrunch, Mar. 2017). Study Highlights Security Vulnerabilities in the Smart Home (link is external), (CNET, Apr. 2015). Keeping “Smart Homes” Safe From Hackers (link is external), (CBS News, Sep. 9, 2014). The Problem With Home Automation’s Internet of Things (IoT) (link is external), (Forbes, Sep. 26, 2013). When ‘Smart Homes’ Get Hacked: I Haunted A Complete Stranger’s House Via The Internet (link is external), (Forbes, Jul. 26, 2013). Market Players Here’s a sampling of companies that have entered the home automation space: Apple – HomeKit (link is external) (not yet available) ARCOS – Smart Home (link is external) AT&T – Digital Life® (link is external) Comcast  – XFINITY® Home (link is external) Google – Nest (link is external) Microsoft / Insteon® (link is external) (partnership) Samsung Electronics – SmartThings  (link is external) Siemens – Synco™ living (link is external) Remotely (link is external) and IOTAS (link is external) create home automation systems for the rental market, and focus on developers and property management companies, rather than on individual consumers. Automation Standards & Protocols IEEE Standards Association (IEEESA) (link is external) IEEESA is a “consensus building organization that nurtures, develops & advances global technologies” (Source: IEEESA approves and publishes standards for IoT applications. ZigBee (link is external) “ZigBee is the only open, global wireless standard to provide the foundation for the Internet of Things by enabling simple and smart objects to work together, improving comfort and efficiency in everyday life. The ZigBee Alliance is an open, non-profit association of approximately 400 members driving development of innovative, reliable and easy-to-use ZigBee standards” (Source: For a great primer on home automation protocols, see Home Automation Technologies (link is external) from PC World.


Field Guide to Smart Device Safety

Smart devices are fun to use, make our lives easier, and run the gamut from cell phones to home appliances to children’s toys. However, with this technology come security risks. A rule of thumb to keep in mind is that a smart device not only has the ability to relay information to you, it also has the ability to relay information about you. (C. Dodge, Information Specialist) What You Should Know About Smart Technology (IoT) “…At its core, IoT is simple: it’s about connecting devices over the internet, letting them talk to us, applications, and each other”… Everything new and shiny has downsides, and security and privacy are the biggest challenges for IoT. All these devices and systems collect a lot of personal data about people – that smart meter knows when you’re home and what electronics you use when you’re there – and it’s shared with other devices and held in databases by companies.” Source: What is The Internet of Things? (link is external), The Guardian, May 6, 2016). How Secure is Your Smartphone? Businesses beware: Smartphone malware rises 400% in 2016, Nokia reports (link is external), (TechRepublic, Mar. 27, 2017). With WikiLeaks Claims of C.I.A. Hacking, How Vulnerable Is Your Smartphone? (link is external), (The New York Times, Mar. 7, 2017). Local Police Departments Invest In Cell Phone Spy Tools (link is external), (NPR, Feb. 17, 2017). Is your smartphone listening to you? (link is external), (BBC News, Mar. 2016). Yes, your smartphone camera can be used to spy on you… (link is external), (Naked Security, May, 28, 2014). Your Apps May Be Selling Your Personal Information Apps are disrupting traditional industries — and your privacy (link is external), (CNBC, Aug. 1, 2016). Is the Facebook Messenger App Recording Your Conversations and Ignoring Privacy Settings? (link is external), (Inquisitr, Jun. 4, 2016). When Apps Act Like Gods: Your Apps Could Compromise Your Privacy (link is external), (Trend Micro, Jan. 15, 2016). Key takeaways on mobile apps and privacy (link is external), (Pew Research Center, Nov. 10, 2015). Are Smartphone Apps Making It Easier To Racially Profile? (link is external), (NPR, Oct. 15, 2015). Privacy Issues and the Smart Devices in Your Home Your browsing history may be up for sale soon. Here’s what you need to know (link is external), (The Guardian, Mar. 28, 2017). Banned In Germany: Kids’ Doll Is Labeled An Espionage Device (link is external), (NPR, Feb. 17, 2017). Privacy & surveillance concerns over voice-recognition devices, Google Home & Amazon Echo (link is external), (AirTalk, Oct. 11, 2016). Is Your Smart Security Camera Protecting Your Home Or Spying On You? (link is external), (Forbes, Aug. 22, 2016). Virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Echo break US child privacy law, experts say (link is external), (The Guardian, May 26, 2016). Samsung changes Smart TV privacy policy in wake of spying fears (link is external), (CNET, Feb. 10, 2015). Protect Your Privacy How Not to Protect Your Privacy Online (link is external), (Gizmodo, Mar. 31, 2017). How to Hide Your Browsing History From Your Snooping ISP, (link is external) (Gizmodo, Mar. 29, 2017). VPNs Won’t Save You from Congress’ Internet Privacy Giveaway (link is external), (Wired, Mar. 28, 2017). How to Remove Geotags From Pictures Taken With Your iPhone (link is external), (Lifewire, Mar. 10, 2017). How Can I Protect My Smartphone and Smart TV From Getting Hacked? (link is external), (NBC, Mar. 8, 2017). 66 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Right Now (link is external), (Consumer Reports, Feb. 21, 2017). Cryptoparties Teach Attendees How To Stay Anonymous Online (link is external), (NPR, Feb. 6, 2017). 7 ways to keep your smart home from being hacked (link is external), (MarketWatch, Oct. 20, 2016). About privacy and Location Services in iOS 8 and later (link is external), (Apple, Inc., Sep. 15, 2016). Firms Are Buying, Sharing Your Online Info. What Can You Do About It? (link is external), (NPR, July 11, 2016). Mark Zuckerberg tapes over his webcam. Should you? (link is external), (The Guardian, Jun. 22, 2016). Why You Should Not Use The New Smartphone Fingerprint Readers (link is external), (Forbes, Mar. 5, 2015). Six ways your tech is spying on you – and how to turn it off (link is external), (The Guardian, Feb. 10, 2015).     Field Guide to Choosing & Using a Smartphone Field Guide to Smart Homes Field Guide to Using Privacy & Security Features in Social Media Information Services Blog