HiveCare: Assistive Technology Pilot Programme
In September 2017 Hive studios in association with Housing Executive selected a number of local homes to participate in a Assistive Technology Smart Home Pilot Programme. The pilot programme lasts for 12 months, at the end of which Tenants will get to keep all the technology. The aim of the project is to assess the impact / potential benefit arising from the installation of a variety of modern Smart Technologies within the homes of participants, with a variety of different needs. At the core of this system is the use of voice recognition systems to trigger the automation of a variety of functions using connected smart devices. On occasion, where voice issues are a problem for the individual, and where manual dexterity is not an issue – we can configure a non-verbal interface (i.e. using an app/gestures for example).
Using Amazon Echo Voice Technology (Echo/Echo Spot/Echo Show), a variety of Smart Home Devices and a number of simple commands – you can control many of the critical functions of your home: Lighting, heating, entertainment, appliances, security & access. We can also add fall and movement detection, and a private remote safety system linked to your family or carer’s Smart Phone / Tablet or PC.
Participants have received a Smart Home Assistive Technology System designed to meet their individual needs. After an initial site visit which assessed the need and viability of specific devices/systems, we installed and configured the equipment to suit each individuals schedule and capacity. For many common issues there is a relatively simple Smart solution. Hive studios specialises in developing a custom Smart solution for each and every customer/client, tailored to their lifestyle and needs. We configure the systems to individual requirements and provide user guides and dedicated support to ensure users get the best from their solution.
For some people there is a quite normal fear around the use of new technology – we aim to negate that fear, break down any barriers to adoption and provide clear and simple instructions for use. Once that fear is overcome – customers/clients clearly see the benefits of the Smart systems. Each system requires that the home have internet access, but other than that there is very little qualifying requirements.
The pilot programme will be evaluated in line with a variety of measurement frameworks, including: overall well-being benefits, cost / financial benefits as well as a clinical assessment of any improvement (delivered by WHSCT Occupational Therapists).
In comparison to traditional environmental packages, typically found in adapted accommodation, these types of Smart assistive technology systems provide a variety of additional benefits, including:
• Cost benefits: Solutions are typically a fraction of the cost of traditional proprietary environmental systems. Supply, installation, upkeep and maintenance are all significantly cheaper than traditional systems.
• Functional accessibility benefits: The ability to control functions purely by voice command, from anywhere in the home, – can have massive benefits for those who have vision, mobility or manual dexterity issues. Older traditional systems work primarily by touch triggers / gestures / control panels / oversized buttons / or pressure sensors.
• Connective modular technology benefits: The connected nature of systems means that they often have multiple uses, an Echo Show for example – can act as a videophone, as the hub for other smart devices, an internet browser, a time management/scheduling system (managing appointments/ setting reminders to take medication), a door entry system (connected to a video doorbell) etc. These devices are all modular – which means we can tailor solutions to individual needs, and reduce costs where need-be.
• Well-being benefits: Automation of certain activities can alleviate the stress associated with carrying them out / whether that be mental stress or physical stress; connecting people together through the alexa app – room to room or app to app and providing immediate access to the internet and a variety of entertainment content can alleviate social isolation.
• Security & monitoring benefits: There are a number of Smart solutions which provide a range of opportunities to enhance the personal and domestic safety of individuals and their homes. This could come in the form of video doorbells, smart locks, external PIR camera systems, the ability to turn on household lights whilst in bed or not at home OR in the form of more custom sensor based systems which enable very detailed monitoring solutions (for carers).
• Additional feature set / added value benefits: As these systems are remotely updated they can be expanded and enhanced with additional features. New features and indeed new devices are being launched every day which will create even more opportunities to support a person with complex needs living independently.
All these benefits (and the relevant technologies involved) ultimately contribute to a greater ability to support independent living for individuals with complex needs.
The project is centred around the implementation of a variety of Smart digital technologies:
Essentially we are repurposing technology which has been designed primarily for ‘gadget-smart home entertainment purposes’ and customising it to suit the needs of people with complex needs – in an effort to increase their ability to live independently. But the technology on its own is useless to people, the fundamental service we offer is:
1. Customised configuration to suit all needs (personal and family needs) – matching the best technology/solution with the needs of the user
2. A full wrap-around support package which makes sure that the user actually gets the best from the technology. Breaking down barriers to engagement, fear of technology, user-interface issues etc.
3. Engaging the broader family support unit to support the user with the new system, and create new ways of reducing isolation, or non-invasive monitoring for family/carers.