Assistive technology at home
Assistive technology and home security
Article 5 of 6
Assistive technology and home security
Find the right technological gadgets to help make the home a safer place for those with a disability or dexterity, memory or mobility problems.
Home is the place where the most accidents happen, with falls being the biggest cause of accidents for older people.
To help you fit the right technological gadgets to make the home a safer place for those with a disability or dexterity, memory or mobility problems, we've asked a panel of experts to select and review a range of assistive-technology products. These ranged from GPS tracking systems to gadgets specifically focused on home security and safety.
The recommended products are presented in the table below. Which? members can log in now to unlock the table and view full details.
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Table notes: All prices include VAT, unless otherwise specified. Enquire if delivery costs are additional as this varies.
Many of the assistive-technology products above overlap with the devices mentioned on our telecare and tracker systems page. They can either be bought as standalone products – such as technological ‘personal assistants’ for the home – or linked to a call centre or carer as part of a wider telecare package, using sensors around the house.
Assistive technology kitchen safety
Various ‘environmental sensors’ are available to detect dangerous levels of gas, smoke, carbon monoxide or flooding in the house, as well as temperature extremes. These sensors emit a loud alarm and can also be set up to transmit an alarm to a monitoring centre or carer as part of a telecare package.
Other useful devices to improve safety in the kitchen include electromagnetic induction hobs, which heat only the pan and not the hob itself, thus reducing the chance of burns. And one-cup kettles boil enough water for only one cup, and reduce the need for pouring – a task that is often difficult if you have limited strength or dexterity.
Both devices help to conserve energy, but they can be expensive to buy, with induction hobs starting at around £300 and going up to more than £3,000 for high-end models.
Preventing cold callers and intruders
You have told us that these are among your biggest safety worries. Uninvited or cold-callers who ignore a sticker or notice stating that you don’t wish to receive them may be committing a criminal offence, as is a trader who ignores your requests to leave and not return.
Trading Standards recommends always saying no to anyone cold-calling, no matter how plausible, as it’s an approach favoured by rogue traders.
For front-door security, gadgets can be as simple as a door chain that can be unlocked from the outside (good if you care for a relative who keeps a chain on the door).
Make sure your house looks occupied, even when you’re away, and that it’s not obvious if a vulnerable person lives there. For example, a messy garden can tempt a prowling rogue trader to knock.
Helpful technology ranges from the simple Fake TV, which simulates a real TV behind the curtains while you’re away, to a home security system that allows you to monitor your home remotely for temperature, sound and movement, using your smartphone or tablet.
Environmental control units (ECUs) for household tasks
Environmental control units (ECUs) are electronic remote control systems that allow you to operate everyday domestic appliances and house fittings remotely, all from one device.
You can use them for tasks such as opening and closing curtains and blinds, opening windows and doors, turning on lamps, and operating televisions and CD/DVD players. They're especially useful if you have trouble with dexterity or mobility around your home.
You choose which appliance you want to operate from a visual display panel on the ECU. Some units operate only one appliance – for example, opening and closing curtains electronically – but most will operate several.
The remote controls work either by infrared or by radio frequencies, which have the advantage of being able to control appliances located in other rooms. ECUs can be push-button, touchscreen or voice-activated.
Smart thermostats and lighting control systems
One of the biggest smart home innovations to have sparked people's attention is smart energy management systems, such as smart thermostats and smart heating controls that can learn your routine and adjust the warmth of your home accordingly.
And it doesn't stop at your heating – new smart lighting systems mean you can turn your lights on and off from wherever you are.
Find out more about smart thermostats and lighting control systems, from brands such as Nest, Honeywell and Hive.