Review of the current status of research on smart homes and other domestic assistive technologies in support of the TAHI trials
online resourceposted on 08.03.2006, 13:07 by David Poulson, Colette Nicolle, Magdalen Galley
The study provides an overview of developments in smart home technology and its use in the assistive technology sector. It includes an extensive literature review and detailed descriptions of current smart home installations in the UK and Europe. The report highlights the complexity of providing products and services in this area, and the relative immaturity of smart home technology in this sector. Many of the available products have emerged from office automation technologies developed for use in building control applications or from small niche markets in the assistive sector. Smart home developments have also concentrated on home control applications, but larger potential markets are also now being identified in other areas. Many of the trials described use technology to improve the safety and security of older and disabled people, concentrating more on the monitoring rather than home environment control. The report also demonstrates the practical difficulties faced in developing services in this sector. For many organisations these have been exploratory first steps in the use of technology to support care, and this lack of experience is reflected in common difficulties in specification and installation of equipment especially when retrofitting installations into buildings. Many developments have suffered from the lack of relevant experience of electrical and other contractors, so that it has proved difficult for organisations to identify both suppliers of equipment and people with the skills to install the technology. In the majority of cases there has been no formal evaluation of the developments, and it is therefore difficult to obtain evidence of the costs and benefits of using such technology to provide care and support independent living.