In this article, we are interviewing successful writer Michael Miller who is writing his new book on Smart Home for Seniors. When we think about our mom, dad, uncle, aunts and others who are getting old we always wonder how can we make their life little comfortable and smart homes or home automation could be a possible option. We are going to discuss which devices are best suited to start with, what are some of the challenges and why it makes sense for our seniors to have a smart home
Why should Seniors look for smart home devices or home automation?
Most of the benefits of smart home technology apply to users of all ages – automating boring operations, making life easier, freeing up more time, and making various devices and appliances more useful. For seniors in particular, smart home technology can help compensate for various physical and mental challenges they might face. If your joints hurt or you have knee or hip problems, it can be a chore to do even simple things, like getting off the couch to turn on the lights or adjust the thermostat. Being able to operate these devices from the comfort of your couch, via smartphone or voice-activated controller, can improve the quality of life for many older consumers.
Can you please list 3 smart home devices which will be most beneficial for Seniors?
I believe the most important and enabling smart home technology today is the voice-activated controller or personal assistant, as typified by Amazon Echo/Alexa and Google Home/Assistant. Being able to control all manner of devices and operations via voice commands makes life a lot easier for seniors (or anyone, really) who can’t get around as well as they used to.
Beyond the voice activated controller, seniors appear to be most interested in home security-related devices. We’re talking smart doorbells and locks, smart smoke detectors, and entire smart home security systems. Safety is important for older users, and smart home technology definitely can help to make a home more secure.
Installation and maintenance is a big issue with most of the smart home devices. Do you think this will be a challenge for Seniors and how can they address it?
For seniors to embrace smart home technology, these devices have to be easy to set up and easy to use. Unfortunately, many smart devices today are the exact opposite of “user-friendly.” This is changing, and many of the newer devices and hubs are very easy to set up and configure. This is why in my book I recommend some systems (such as Wink) over others (Insteon, for example), not because of what they can do but because of how easy or difficult they are to configure, or the likelihood that users will run into and need to troubleshoot various issues. Seniors will not and cannot be troubled to undertake an overly involved installation; they’ll just stop and be done with it. (This is also an issue with physical installations, such as with smart locks and thermostats.) If seniors are going to embrace the technology, it has to be easy and relatively trouble proof. I’m not sure we’re completely there yet, but it’s getting better.
Does benefits of smart home outweighs cost of setup for smart home?
This is a definite “maybe.” As noted, most seniors will not be bothered if the installation/setup is too difficult, or if they run into any problems with a device; this is an issue they can’t get past. That said, being able to make their home more livable as they get older is a benefit. Smart home technology has the potential to let seniors remain in their existing homes even as their physical or mental capabilities change over time, thus delaying or removing the need to move to assisted living facilities. Smart homes are less demanding and safer than homes without smart technology, which definitely benefits older users – if they can get everything set up and working!
Which one is your favorite smart home device?
Of all the smart devices I’ve tested, I believe that the Amazon Echo (I’m using the Echo Dot, actually) and Google Home are the game changers. Before these devices, you had to use multiple smart phone apps to control various smart devices. With Alexa and Google Assistant, a simple voice command does the job. These voice-controlled devices not only make smart home control simpler and easier, they help users recognize the potential of smart home technology. Personally, I think the smart home market would be dead in the water without these innovative devices from Amazon and Google.
Would you like to tell our readers about your hobbies and your favorite city?
I’m not sure it’s a hobby, but I’m a drummer who plays with a couple of local church bands each week. (I just like to play!) I spend the rest of my free time with my six grandchildren, aged 2 to 10, who absolutely adore Alexa and Google Assistant. I live in the Twin Cities area in Minnesota, and other than the winter cold I love it up here. If I had to choose somewhere else to live, I’d go with La Jolla, California, which was kind of my home away from home when I was younger. You can’t complain about the weather there!
You can reach out to Michael at his website http://www.millerwriter.com/