It is time to write this article.
Thinking about Roomware I have passed and discussed several options which will all be blogged. One deciding factor you will find returning mentioned in other blogs as well is “relevance”.
Working on and thinking about domotica and combining it with Roomware is nice. Think of scenarios like: using your Oyster / OV (RFID) card as a key to unlock your door, to grant other people access with their RFID cards in your house, office or other protected environment. Using sensors measuring the opening and closing of doors and activities in rooms to decide if the light should be turned on and off and so on. You can measure the state of your groceries based on sensors in your fridge.
But where is the relevance of this?
I personally like the RFID-card as door key thing and sensors telling you if you shut all windows so no-one can get in. But all else: The energy you save is consumed by a computer on stand-by consuming approximately 25 Watt full time: like leaving the light in your bathroom on all the time. We have hands to manipulate things and eyes to see if a product is over date, so this “house of the future” is currently mainly catering our lazyness.
Enter health care and the caring house
Every year, at least for two times my father helps disabled people so they can have a week of skiing in some resort. The people he helps lost their eyesight, are partially or entirely paralyzed, spastic or suffering from multiple sclerose. The things you can do to improve their quality of life are simple and simply stunning.
Using sensors, unified and contextual “remote controls”, automatic door openers, live streams of video from camera’s around the house you can give disabled people some control back over their lives, decrease the dependency they have of other people.
Also using biometric sensors to measure stress levels, blood sugar levels and heartbeat so you can see changes in patterns which might indicate the beginning of a possible stroke, panic attack or failure of body functions.
Imagine being able to switch channels on your TV by moving your mouth or chin, opening the door in the same way when your guest arrives, turning the heat up or down in that same way, seeing who is standing in front of the door to know if it is really your friend or some strangers who you never invited, making a phone call: where “you” are a person who has lost all motoric function on everything except your neck, your eyes and your mouth.
The technology to make this work has become dirt cheap and more and more reliable. I think to automate a house as described here can be done for about 3.000 euro of materials. The strange thing is: why does it not happen yet?
One of the things on my agenda for this year (2010) is to start working with Roomware on this subject: of which one of the directions is involving students in universities to develop solutions and help creating companies to move it further – with the goal to provide affordable solutions which improve the quality of life of people who really benefit by that.
The way to do it is by working together with the people who will benefit: prototype with their direct input, testing iterations of prototypes by the subject the moment they are finished and use this process to create solutions that actually solve the problem.