Around the House: Trends and Technologies

Reprinted from PN May 2001
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Voice activation, wireless technology, bigger handles, and more ergonomic designs are among the advances assisted-living product manufacturers are employing. Andrea Tannenbaum, president of Dynamic Living, Inc., recently made the following observations after attending trade shows that showcase cutting-edge products:

— Better Handle Grips. Many companies have jumped on the bandwagon for more comfortable kitchen and garden gadgets. Says Tannenbaum, "This is an excellent example of an accessible design feature that only a few years ago was considered a specialty item. Now, almost every kitchen gadget and gardening tool has been redesigned more ergonomically. These new designs can be purchased easily at local gardening centers, kitchen shops, or supermarkets."

— Hands-free Operation. "Hands-free electronic conveniences are being touted by the telephone industry," Tannenbaum says. However, not all hands-free products live up to their names. "While it's true these products can be operated without the use of hands, most hands-free, voice-activated products still need to be switched on by pressing a button."

— Network-ready Appliances. "Prototypes of 'smart appliances' that can be activated remotely were being displayed by many manufacturers," Tannenbaum says. This technology would enable homeowners to call home from remote locations or use voice activation to turn up the thermostat, preheat an oven, close the drapes at sunset, or turn on a gas fireplace. Extensive cabling has been eliminated with the arrival of line technology that allows signals to travel over standard household currents and wireless technology that sends complex radio signals. It will be about ten years before this technology is available and affordable to most people.

— Alerting Devices. These items have also been updated with new radio-signal technologies that allow for greater ease of use and longer distances. "There are driveway alerts that let you know when someone is coming," says Tannenbaum, "sensor beams that can be placed near the stove or front door to ensure safety and security, and mailbox alerts that notify you when the mail has arrived." Dynamic Living is currently testing these products before making them available to consumers.

— Virtual House Calls. "Companies are designing medical devices that perform routine tests and send the images or results to doctors over the phone or Internet," Tannenbaum says. Patients will be able to record general information like blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol levels, body fat, and blood sugar levels in the convenience of their own homes and obtain results from the devices or their doctors.

Dynamic Living, Inc., is an online Internet catalog with hundreds of products that promote a convenient, comfortable, and safe home environment. Contact: (888) 940-0605 / www.dynamic-living. com.


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Around the House: Trends and Technologies


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