Leaders of a major European independent living project, Habinteg Housing Association are starting practical tests of innovative new household technology this month. These high tech solutions aim to make everyday tasks much easier for disabled and older people.
The accessible housing experts are representing the UK on the I-stay@home programme alongside partner organisations from France, Germany, Holland and Belgium. 180 tenants across Europe will be trying out a range of gadgets and judging their usefulness, reliability and value for money in supporting independent living.
Habinteg is rolling out the trials in the UK with 22 Habinteg tenants from across London taking part. They will be testing a variety of technology including:
a robotic vacuum cleaner
a motion sensor for detecting falls
wireless cameras for identifying visitors at the front door
wireless light switches
energy monitors and online apps for banking and shopping
Tenants simply control the equipment through a tablet computer with the technology at their fingertips.
Research from stage 1 of the I-stay@home project in 2013 found disabled and older people are keen to use new technology to help them lead more independent lives, as long as the products are affordable and user friendly. The survey revealed that 60% were open to using new technologies to help them in their home.
Habinteg Research and Policy Manager, Glen Joseph said: “Independent living is central to Habinteg’s vision. That’s why we’re really pleased that we’re leading this practical phase of the project. Our tenants are looking forward to using the technology to se if it can make their lives easier.
“The feedback we are gathering is helping us explain the positive impact technology is having on people’s everyday lives. As the UK representative on I-stay@home, we will use this research to make the case for effective tech solutions for tenants in the the social housing sector and beyond.”
Tenant product tester, Bill Smalley said: “I’m really pleased to be trying out this technology. The vacuum cleaner is excellent and is already saving me and my wife time with jobs around the house. This was certainly more difficult before so we’re already seeing the benefit.
“I’m all for this project and I know that other tenants would be helped by these new ideas. If we can help other people in future with this testing that would be fantastic.”
Trials take place over a 10 month period with full analysis provided by all European partners early in 2015.