SMART Home Information

SMART Home Information

The following information provides a brief overview of some of the different types of smart technology available. Used creatively using these devices can assist people to remain as active and independent as possible, remind them to do something, may prevent falls and help people communicate with their friends and family. Being creative with the inbuilt functionality of the devices is key.

It is always best to think about what it is you want to be able to do/ achieve and then consider which particular device or setup may help you achieve this goal.

In order to set up a SMART home, you will require a strong and reliable broadband connection within your home.

A SMART phone or tablet is required to setup and Purchase smart devices. This can be by the person in their own home or someone else remotely e.g. a family member accessing the account used for setup.

This booklet is for information purposes only and no products or brands are recommended.


Voice Activated Hubs

Voice activated hubs or devices are a voice command enabled intelligent device and virtual assistant. They are designed to make life easier by allowing you to Purchase your home, listen to music, make to do lists, set alarms, provide weather, traffic announcements etc.

The 2 market leaders are Amazon Alexa and Google Home. They can be operated by speaking directly to the hub (using a wake up word e.g. "Alexa" or "Hey Google") or remotely by Purchase using an app on a smartphone or tablet which is linked to the account. There are different variations and models of voice activated hubs available and all do slightly different things - some come with a screen enabling text, video play and video calls and some come as a small speaker device – check manufacturers details for more information to find a device with the features you require.

Image illustrating a smart hub
Requirements
  • Hub
  • Reliable power and wifi connection
  • Smart phone or tablet for setup (you can use a relatives or friends if you don’t have your own)
  • You will be required to set up an account with the associated company e.g. Amazon or Google- to do this you will need an email address and will be prompted to set up a secure password.
Purchase

You can purchase different products individually or as a package either on the high street or online. Products vary in price and reliability. Some are easier to set up than others by yourself and some require professional setup and installation, depending on product and manufacturer. It is advisable to check reviews and seek recommendations before purchase.

Reliability

Smart devices rely on broadband/ wifi and electrical connectivity. If there is an outage the devices will not work and reliability can vary or may be intermittent. If there is a reliable connection and the devices go "offline" then often connectivity can often be restored by turning the device on/off at the mains.

If someone is at high risk of requiring assistance, then relying on a smart hub to summon emergency help may not be appropriate or reliable enough. A more robust and reliable system to summon help can be supplied by East Lothian Telecare and Community Alarm Service. Once referred to the team, an alarm unit and pendant or wristband will be provided to help support and enable people to be independent in their own homes. At the press of a button they will be put in touch with helpful alarm centre staff if you require assistance. They in turn will contact the person you have chosen to be your emergency contact. If necessary they can also contact the emergency services.

Voice recognition:

Smart hubs are designed to get smarter every day. The more you use them, the more the service adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences.

Interaction History:

It is possible to view the voice interaction/ activity of commands history within smarthub app via the app. This may be helpful for families would find it reassuring to know that their loved one is up in the morning (mum has turned the radio on) or that they have gone to bed(mum has turned the lights off). You'll get a list of all your smarthub recordings, which you can filter by date.

View full information on Voice Activated Hubs

Smart Speaker/hub helpful features

There are many skills and features that these hubs can do including to help keep you as independent as possible. Here are a few to consider:

Memory aid/ prompts
  • calendars, reminders – one off or regular
  • orientation – day, time, weather,
  • shopping list – voice command items and list stored in Alexa app for when out shopping
  • Lists – create your own lists e.g. visitors list or to do list
  • Medication prompts/reminders – one off or regular
  • Timers/reminders - can be set for regular reminders or one off reminders – "turn the cooker off in 10 minutes" "remind me to take the bins out every Wednesday at 10am"
  • Routines - Can set up a variety of actions through one command such as...
    • "Good Morning "
      • Switch on 3 lights downstairs
      • News
      • Weather
      • Turn on Coffee pot
      • "Have a nice day"
Control of environment (requires smart plug or bulb or other sensor e.g. movement sensor)
  • turn off/on lights, fan, heating, TV, slow cooker etc other gadgets – these can be set as one off or regular routine (set up in Routine functions in app)
Communication
  • Drop in
  • Voice call mobile or landline numbers 0r contacts alexa devices (numbers need to be saved in contacts)
  • Video link/ call (hubs with screen e.g. Echo Show)
Mental stimulation and entertainment

Some examples:

  • news
  • quizzes- use voice or Amazon buttons
  • Music including radio
  • Audiobook e.g. Audible
  • "tell me a joke"
  • Questions – fun, general knowledge or information "where is the international space station just now"
  • Amazon develop and offer new skills and games every day. To search for ideas:
    • Tap the menu icon in the top left-hand corner.
    • Tap "Skills & Games" on the list.
    • Tap on Discover or Categories for ideas and different ones to choose from
    • Once you find one suitable, tap on it and select enable to use

View full information on Voice Activated Hubs

Blind openers example:

It is possible to open blinds by voice by using a blind opener linked to smart speaker.

Smart Speaker with screen e.g. Echo Show helpful features


Amazon Alexa Routines

What Can You Do with Alexa Routines?

Routines are a way for Alexa to automatically perform actions, or a series of actions.

For example, say "Start my day" to have Alexa turn on your compatible smart lights and tell you the weather forecast.

You can create routines based on events like saying "Good morning," the time of day, or when a song is requested.


Smart Plugs

All smart plugs work in roughly the same way - but they use different protocols for control.

Perhaps the easiest smart plugs to use are WIFI enabled devices that connect to your home network. These require no additional hardware and if they’re in an area with a strong wireless signal, the smart plug will work anywhere in your home.

Next are smart plugs which connect through a smart hub. The Smart hub acts as the "brains" allowing you to connect and control different smart devices such as movement sensors, door sensors, light bulbs etc. Examples of smart hubs include Hive, Nest, Philips Hue or Samsung Smart things. These hubs allow for different actions such as scheduling a light to come on at a certain time or to turn a light off when you leave the room. These actions can be set up within the smart hub app on your smartphone or tablet.

Image illustrating a plug socket

Once set up, all smart plugs can be voice controlled by linking them to a voice activated device such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home. This is set up via the Google Home app or Amazon Alexa app - follow manufacturer’s instructions to set up.

Advice - Some smart hubs require an Ethernet connection (a cable connecting your broadband router to the smart hub) and all will require an electrical power supply. Check manufacturers advice


Smart Bulbs

All smart bulbs work in roughly the same way - but they use different protocols for control.

Perhaps the easiest smart bulbs to use are WIFI enabled devices that connect to your home network. These require no additional hardware and, if they’re in an area with a strong wireless signal, the smart bulb will work anywhere in your home. You can control the on/off function using an App on your smartphone or tablet. Some bulbs allow you to dim the lighting and change the colour – check manufacturer guidelines for more information.

Next are smart bulbs which connect through a smart hub. The Smart hub acts as the "brains" allowing you to connect and control different smart devices such as movement sensors, door sensors, light bulbs etc. Examples of smart hubs include Hive, Nest, Philips Hue or Samsung Smart things. These hubs allow for different actions such as scheduling a light to come on at a certain time or to turn a light off when you leave the room (additional sensors required). These actions can be set up within the smart hub app on your smartphone or tablet.

Image illustrating a smart plug

Once set up, all smart bulbs can be voice controlled by linking them to a voice activated device such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home. This is set up via the Google Home app or Amazon Alexa app - follow manufacturer’s instructions to set up.

Advice - Some smart hubs require an Ethernet connection (a cable connecting your broadband router to the smart hub) and all will require an electrical power supply. Check manufacturers advice.


Video doorbell

Video doorbells can be fitted to the front door (with rechargeable battery or hardwired into the doorbell to prevent recharging) and alert that someone has pressed the video doorbell or that it has sensed movement within a pre set range in front of the inbuilt camera. It sends an alert to app, video hub (e.g. echo show) or through door chime – preferences set in the app.

Some families have used the doorbell as reassurance that their loved one has left their home, returned home or to manage deliveries or bogus callers at the front door. As the device allows two way speech, if the doorbell detects someone leaving in the middle of the night/ inappropriate times, a family member could be alerted via the app and they could communicate via the two way speech and camera to persuade their loved one to return home.

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