Home Automation Options for People who are quadriplegic/quadriparetic

Continuing the discussion from Alexa + SmartThings + IFTTT + Harmony to turn TV on and off by voice:

Sounds good. Always interested in new ideas. :sunglasses: I’ve started this new topic for discussion.

Meanwhile, a couple of threads that might be of interest.

The first is a general discussion of options for people with different disabilities. It was started by a woman with cerebral palsy who cannot use voice options.

The second is about medical smart houses.

The third is my own project report about my first year with home automation.

And the fourth is the voice command solution topic that discusses many different voice options.

Let the brainstorming begin! :tada:

I’m planning to start my phase 2 next fall, with candidate assesment starting in May, so I’m ready to start collecting aspirational ideas. :sunglasses:

(For those who don’t know, those who are quadriparetic or quadriplegic have weakness, paralysis, or limited function in all four limbs. Typically use a wheelchair, but may be able to walk with crutches or a walker. There’s a lot of variation in physical abilities. I can’t grip things tightly, but I can usually scoop things up with both hands, although I still drop a lot of stuff. Someone else might only be able to use an elbow, or have no use of their arms at all.

I depend very much on voice control, but someone else might not be able to use voice command consistently.

So even within this group, different things will work for different people.)


Thanks for starting this thread the links JDR.
My wife is a C5 quadriplegic. She has no use of her hands and limited ability to use a keyboard and iPad using a stylus attached to a wrist splint.
She is fairly proficient with Dragon but that has always meant she has to be tied to a PC.
For the past 18 years I have worked on dozens of solutions to help her control her environment.
The Holy Grail for us has been an “always listening” voice control solution.
Our current best solution is a mix of an iPad, Command Fusion, EventGhost, Global Cache IP2IR, and some homemade Arduino based devices.

I am looking forward to seeing what I can do with Alexia > SmartThings > Harmony Hub and Arduino with the SmartThings Shield.

Thanks again for the help. I’m sure my questions will be numerous.

I’ve used a lot of voice technology over the last 10 years, including Dragon, and I’ve never seen anything like echo for far field voice recognition. It’s just really amazing. I think you’ll be very pleased with it. :sunglasses:

For switch management of a tablet, Have you looked at the Tecla? It’s very cool. Costs about $400, but solves a lot of issues at once.

This is a Wall Street journal article from October 2014.

" http://www.wsj.com/video/tecla-shield-reconnects-injured-to-mobile-devices/EC8FDFA1-6D4D-48C6-A808-3812C412C04E.html "

Thanks for the link,
My wife has more mobility than the Woman in the video.
I love your nickname for Dragon “dragging”.
Laughed like crazy when I read that!

Good news the SmartThings hub arrived a couple of hours ago and I am able to turn a light bulb on and off with Alexia.
If I have time tonight I’m going to add the Harmony hub.

And so it begins.

Sorry, that was just a voice error, not being clever. :wink:

I prefer voice to switch control myself, but it’s always good to have choices.

My wife will prefer voice too. I can’t imaging ditching what we have now but rather adding another option.
I am very impressed with Echo.
I purchased one for my wife as a Christmas gift on black friday to augment what she is using now and stumbled on this forum.
I’m hoping to keep this under wraps until the 25th but I am having a hard time containing my enthusiasm.

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I am able to say “Alexia Watch TV” and she powers on the TV, Directv DVR, AV Receiver, and sets all the HDMI inputs correctly. She responds “Okay”.

“Alexia Watch TV OFF” works to turn everything off.

Baby steps.


Does anyone have a voice solution for using a cordless landline telephone?

My wife could use her iPhone + Hello Siri however the majority of her incoming phone calls are through our landline.

I have an idea for answering calls using the ThingShield.
My shield should arrive Wednesday. I’ll report back as soon as I have it.

B[quote=“BBM3, post:8, topic:32549, full:true”]
Does anyone have a voice solution for using a cordless landline telephone?


There are a number of devices for this. Here’s a good selection. I used to use an Ablephone ($300), I think it’s one of the most popular.


That said, these days most people I know, including me, just forward the landline to the mobile. :wink:

Thanks for the link.
I know I can make a more cost effective solution now that we have Echo + SmartThings.
We use Ooma VoIP for our “landline”. We like having a bunch of old school cordless handsets spread around the house.
I am pretty sure that if we forward our VoIP calls to my wife’s cell it will only ring her cell?

I forgot to mention that, depending on where you live, your wife may qualify for a reduced cost or free handsfree phone. In California, you can get one free with a lot of different options, but I don’t know if they work with VOIP. Anyway I know it may not apply to you, but I just add it here for future reference.


As far as the forwarding, those options vary by provider, you just have to see what they have. Some of them do let them still ring on the house phone at the same time that they forward, some forward from the central office and don’t ring at the house. Some let you do several numbers in sequence so if your wife doesn’t pick up on the mobile you could have it ring back to the original phones. But again that’s going to depend on the provider options.

I’ll check to see if Colorado has a similar program.

Your local Independent Living Center should know of any equipment programs.


Wow that was fast.

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On a different note…

GE Link LED Bulb

“When receiving power, this bulb will act as a signal repeater to extend the range of your ZigBee mesh network.”

This $15.00 bulb is also a ZigBee repeater!
Once we start deploying our SmartThings devices into the far reaches of our house this will be an inexpensive way to keep everything connected.

Unfortunately, the GE link bulbs have a known firmware problem which is of particular concern to people with mobility issues. It causes them to drop off the network from time to time, and then they have to be reset, usually with the blink method. Which of course defeats the whole point of using the home automation system so you don’t have to fool with switches. This known problem is the reason that the GE Link bulbs are NOT on the official "works with SmartThings list.

As an alternative, you should be able to use a different Zigbee bulb. The Osram Lightify is probably the most popular for this purpose. The $15 Hue White (the new model which just came out and is replacing the hue lux) is another candidate, although that one is not officially supported and there are a couple of tricky aspects to it.

Anyway, I originally got some GE links and ended up replacing them because it was so much trouble resetting them when they went off-line. An able-bodied person may not care quite as much, but it is something to be aware of.

See the following FAQ:

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I am just beginning with Echo + SmartThings so I appreciate your feedback.
If we have a problem with the GE Link Bulb I will consider the others.
We are only a couple of days into SmartThings.

I will post some pictures, a description, and maybe a video of what we are currently using.

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This is my Wife’s iPad DirecTV homepage.
I made the buttons with Adobe. The buttons change state / shading from top to bottom to look as they are pressed, light a virtual led, and produce an audible “click” when pressed.

This is an XBee mesh network pager I made years ago.
We have these deployed throughout the house.
My wife is able to page me from her PC, iPad, and sip and puff.

Here is an Arduino based IR to Relay board I made to operate a fireplace and our XBee mesh network whole home paging system.

My short-term goal is to enable my wife to perform these functions via voice (Alexa)
Long term goal is for her to completely control her environment using voice commands with Alexa.

Very cool!

With the Echo, you will be able to use voice to flip a virtual switch, which you can then use to execute a smartapp or routine in SmartThings, so you can get voice access to pretty much anything you can control through SmartThings. :sunglasses:

You can also use Echo to activate Harmony activities through either Smart
Things or IFTTT, giving you access to even more devices.

There is also a “ThingShield” you can buy from SmartThings which adds a smartthings-compatible Zigbee radio to an Arduino. That gives you a lot of Maker options which it looks like might fit into your existing work.

One of the community members has developed a really nice library for the
ThingShield. You’ll find discussion of that in the following topic:

Yep the ThingShield will allow her to do the low voltage contact switching she is doing now.
In fact I could probably do away with our Harmony Hub.
I ordered a ThingShield last week should be here Wednesday.

We have a Harmony Hub as well. Haven’t a clue yet how to setup voice commands for something as simple as “Pause” after asking Alexa to “Watch TV”

Setting up my Wife’s iPad with Command Fusion, EventGhost, IP2IR, etc. was a steep learning curve.

I have a lot of new stuff to learn.