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Getting Started with Home Automation

11 March 2020

To some people with disabilities, home automation is a brave new world with endless opportunities for independence and control over their environment. For others, it’s overwhelming with the vast number of products to choose from, and everything that comes with it – how to use it, install it, integrate them. 
Personally, I’m a bit from both columns. I firmly believe it is the way of the future, and while I do have some home automation or environmental control units (ECU’s) myself, it’s knowing where to start that’s confusing. So today we break it down into 5 steps it takes to start your journey into the world of home automation: 
First up, consider what are your main needs and priorities when it comes to home automation. Try and list in order of priority. Things like safely entering/exiting property, turning lights on, controlling TV/music, temperature control. 
Think about the assistive technology (AT) you currently use and the systems you currently use to carry out tasks. For instance, you may only use Apple/Mac operating systems and may want any new automation to sync with what’s existing. That being said, there are ways to get different systems to ‘talk’ to each other but thinking about compatibility first may help create a ‘path of least resistance’. 
Talk to others in a similar situation or with a similar disability about what they use and how they’ve problem-solved how to integrate their system. There are some great online or social media peer support groups to discuss such as Chatterbox Assistive Technology Chat. Remembering that everyone’s situation is different so you may want to speak to someone who can individually assess you at home. 
The next step is to have a comprehensive assessment by a therapist who knows their stuff about AT. Ideally have someone come out to your house and look at the influencing environmental factors to create a home automation plan. Trust me, it will save a whole lot of confusion and money in the long run! You can make an appointment through the Independent Living Centre to book a personalized assessment. 
For the person who wants to go it alone and give it a try without investing too much – I’d recommend starting off with a low-cost investment like an automated light globe that could be synced with a mobile device app. Some examples are a Phillips Hue or LIFX. If it is something you like using, then perhaps revisit previous points to get your own personalized home automation plan. 
Good luck with taking your steps into the world of Home Automation. Any questions, feel free to discuss with the AT Chat team via email or join  AT Chat on Facebook here.  
Below are some more resources that you may find helpful: 
View ‘This is Emerging Technology – Home Automation in Focus’ where Darren demonstrates how he can control his environment, including the heater, fans, air conditioner and lighting through home automation. 
Visit Indigo's Experience Centre in Nedlands, Perth where you can view and trial home automation products and much more in a home styled setting. 
Visit NED, the Independent Living Centre Australia National Equipment Database for information around home automation products and suppliers Australia wide. 

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