There are several topics in the forum that might be of interest to you. There’s a VA medical smart home project, for example, and some people who have automated for homes that include some family members that have disabilities.
One Person’s Experience
That said…I myself am quadriplegic, wheelchair dependent with limited hand function. I use handsfree voice for almost everything. I have had SmartThings installed for about 8 months, and just this week decided to uninstall as much of it as possible because it is so unpredictably unreliable, it’s just not safe for environmental control.
That is, most of it works most of the time, but something fails several times a week and there is rarely any notification when it does. And the “fix” proposed by support is almost always to uninstall and reinstall a lot of things, both rules and devices. That’s all quite difficult for me, and only one of my personal aides is techie, and he only comes every other week.
My disability came later in life. I can code, but I don’t want to. Using text to speech with groovy is really difficult. I also have some vision issues (double vision when I’m tired) which make it very hard to scan code for problems.
THERE WILL BE A LOT MORE CHOICES SOON
My personal guess (and it’s purely a guess) is that about a year from now there will be multiple reliable plug and play systems with some voice control for under $1500 for what I most want to do. Apple’s Homekit/Insteon will be on. Something using Amazon Echo will be another. I do fully expect SmartThings/Samsung to be a third, but they just aren’t there yet.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A QUAD IN A SMARTTHINGS HOUSE
In the last 48 hours I experienced the following SmartThings failures:
I had the system set up so that just before I go to sleep at night I press the button to put my fitness band into sleep mode, and that would trigger putting my house into "Asleep"mode as well as turn off the pathway of lights I use to get from the living room to my bedroom. Pressing the button is tricky, but with effort I can do it, and sleep monitoring is part of my pain management regiment. 3 times in the last two weeks pushing the button worked to start the sleep monitoring (not a part of SmartThings), but didn’t turn off the lights or change the ST mode.
I have an automatic SmartThings action set up to put the house into “Home” mode every day at 8 a.m. Three days ago it failed to run, and has not run since. I reported it to Support, who said it was a “hiccup” on the server side and would need to be deleted and reinstalled. Easy for many people, physically difficult for me.
While I was trying to diagnose 1) and 2) the diagnostic area of the official mobile app was blank much of the time. This turned out to be a known problem affecting a number of users.
Any one of these might be viewed as minor, but taken together it’s just not reliable enough for my needs, nor would I recommend it to anyone else not using it as either a fun hobby or as an easily ignored convenience system.
I missed my bus one day because the system didn’t unlock my door so I could get out. Yes, I can do that door manually if I absolutely have to, like if there was a fire. But it’s neither fast nor easy for me. This is a good example of something where an able bodied person might barely notice the inconvenience, but someone who needs environmental control might find it a major issue.
So I am waiting for another 6 months or a year until there are multiple solid reliable systems I can evaluate.
Meanwhile, the Amazon Echo is amazing for voice control of Philips Hue lights or any other bulbs (including the $15 GE links) that can be controlled by the Hue bridge. Just amazing. One Echo covers about 9 rooms in our house, and it even understands me when my voice slurs, something many other voice recognition systems have trouble with.
I am still relying on ST for automated control of my door lock, but now I accept that it may fail. At least if it does fail, it’s obvious. (I also have a service dog who can open the door once it is unlocked.)
Another option would be to go with the Lutron Caseta for HomeKit, just released this week. That would give you a thermostat, window coverings, and lights, all controlled by voice. Very nice devices, the only thing new is the Siri control.
I chose not to go with that because the door lock is a really big piece of my home automation needs due to the number of personal aides who come and go, and there are as yet no HomeKit locks released so I can’t quite tell how everything will work together.
The SmartThings Community is Great
Well, that’s a long answer but since this has just come up as a major decision point for me this week, I hope you don’t mind the details.
I really like the vision of SmartThings, staff are very helpful, and this community is super creative and helpful. But the core system just lacks the stability I need at this time.