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Electronic Aids for Daily Living

From the automatic garage door opener to the TV remote, electronic devices make our lives easier. They also offer more than convenience to those with physical and cognitive impairments in that they enable people with disabilities to have more control of their home and work environment. The Assistive Technology Lab (Tech Lab) at Craig Hospital works with patients to determine their needs, discusses the options that are available, and then provides the training they may need.


Garage Door Openers

  • Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Door Opener: Uses your home's Wi-Fi network so you can easily monitor, open and close your garage door from anywhere. By using its free app, you're able to check the door's status, receive alerts, turn on lights and more.
  • LiftMaster Garage Door Opener: Allows you to open, close and monitor your garage door from your smart phone and turn on/off any lights that are connected to the system by a LiftMaster Light Control Module.

Automatic Door Openers

Automatic door openers are not only convenient for individuals with disabilities; they can also be lifesavers during emergencies.

  • Adaptive Solutions is a Denver company that can assist you with the decision-making and installation process.
  • Open Sesame Door Systems: Will release and open a locked or unlocked door handle (but not deadbolt), pause for entrance or exit, close automatically, and return the door to its locked position. Works on a wide variety of doors, including those that open to the outside. Equipped with battery backup if your power fails. Comes with a fob and other switches are available.
  • Bluetooth GarageMate: Bluetooth option that allows you to open or close your door using the Open Sesame Door System and an app on your smart device.

Door Knob and Lever Openers

Simplified door knobs and levers can make for easy operation.


Remote Control Deadbolt Openers

Automatic deadbolt openers are ideal for those who have trouble manipulating keys to open locks. Plus, it’s easier to change a key code than to chase down stray keys from former caregivers.

  • August Smart Lock: Uses Bluetooth to provide secure access to your home without keys or codes. Phone connects via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and runs on 4 AA batteries. Designed to work with a pre-existing deadbolt, it replaces the interior portion of an existing deadbolt. Unlock/lock remotely from your phone anywhere you have access to the internet using August Connect. You can also provide virtual keys to friends and caregivers. Note: Your door must line up properly for the lock to engage. This device provides an alert through the app and a flashing red light on the lock when its batteries are low.
  • Lockitron Bolt: Replaces your existing dead bolt so you can operate your lock via your iOS or Android phone. Uses Bluetooth low energy so it will keep working during a power failure or Internet outage. You can access the Lockitron Bridge while you're away from home and also can provide virtual keys to others.
  • Schlage Connect: Compatible with Apple HomeKit and Amazon Echo technology — use voice commands to unlock your door using Siri or Alexa. Note: You can manage this lock if your voice features are compatible with iOS 8.4 or greater devices. Remote access is available for users who have 3rd generation or later Apple TVs positioned within 40 feet of the door.

Wi-Fi Video-Enabled Door Bell

  • AugustDoorbell Cam: One-way camera gives you a view of visitors from your smartphone. View camera on your phone at any time, even without visitors at your door. Option to receive alerts every time the bell is rung. Built-in speaker so you can talk with visitors through your phone. Note: Users must hold the microphone icon to speak with visitors.
  • Ring: Allows you to see and speak with visitors from anywhere in the world by streaming live audio and video of your home's front doorstep directly to the free app. Enabled motion sensors detect movement up to 30 feet, and HD video recording stores all recorded footage, which can be accessed via the app.

Television Remote Controls: App and Voice-Controlled Options

Some cable companies offer free, downloadable apps that allow you to remotely control your cable box through a smart device. You can even control channel selection, power and volume. Check with your cable company or where you purchase your apps for details.

Here are other ways you can control your television or other infrared devices using apps and an additional device:

  • Griffin Beacon: Controls your IR audio, video and entertainment components from your iOS or Android smart device. It is battery operated and connects to your smart device through Bluetooth. Requires you to install a free app. We recommend purchasing two sets of rechargeable batteries so you can charge one set while using the other. Note: This product is no longer manufactured, but you can purchase it on Amazon.com.
  • Harmony Home Hub: Turns your smartphone into a personal universal remote. By using additional hardware, you can control lights, locks, thermostats, etc. both inside and outside your home. Their website has a list of compatible devices (including Amazon Echo and Google Home with voice control).

Television Remote Controls: Smart Televisions

Smart TV’s connect to your home Wi-Fi network, and their features vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some come with built-in voice control. Things to consider when purchasing: Do you have to press a button to activate it? Can you activate it by voice command?

  • Element TV: Integrates your favorite content on the home screen, including live TV broadcasts and streaming apps and channels. With the included Voice Remote with Alexa, it's easy to browse and discover new content. Use your voice to control live TV playback, launch apps, search for TV shows, play music, switch inputs, control smart home devices and much more. Note: You must be able to hold down a button to use voice commands with this remote. This product also works well with over-the-air antennas.
  • LG: Offers voice recognition. You must press a button on the remote for TV control and web browsing by voice.
  • Panasonic: Offers full voice control. Press a button on the Viera touch pad to control your TV and search the Web by voice.
  • Samsung: Features voice recognition and gesture control. The microphone is located on the remote, so the voice recognition feature is reasonably accurate. Voice control does not require pushing a button.

Television Remote Controls: Streaming Media Devices

Connecting one of these devices to your television allows you to stream media, including cable, Netflix, etc. Some of these devices can be controlled through your smart phone and have built-in voice control.

  • Amazon Fire TV: Provides 4K ultra high-definition streaming capability and 75% more processing power. Voice control is built into the remote and requires pressing a button to activate.
  • Android TV: Delivers a world of content, apps and games to your living room. Voice control is built into the remote and requires pressing a button to activate.
  • Apple TV: Uses a new operating system to connect to your screen while Siri searches for your program. Accessing Siri requires pushing a button on your Siri remote.
  • Roku: Provides access to more than 2,500 channels on demand offering more than 300,000 movies and TV episodes. Voice control is built into the remote and requires pushing a button to activate.
  • Xbox One with Kinect: Controls your Xbox One console, TV and cable box with voice commands. Offers voice control without pushing a button.


Television Remote Controls: Big Button Remotes

These oversized remotes make it easier to see and operate the large buttons.

  • Flipper Big Button: Controls your TV and cable or over-the-air DTV box with only one remote. With only five buttons, this universal remote is perfect for someone looking for simplicity.
  • Jumbo Universal: 11-inches long and 5-inches wide with large buttons controls up to eight devices. Available at Walgreens and Amazon.com.
  • Tek Pal: Features six large buttons: on/off, mute, channel up and down, and volume up and down. These buttons light up when pressed and stay on for a few seconds. Note: Not compatible with cable or satellite boxes.
  • Tek Partner Universal: This remote is 5-inches by 8-inches in size, and its buttons are 3/4 of an inch in size. The lighted keyboard uses 4 AAA batteries. It also has a shape designed to rest on your thigh.

Television Remote Controls: Switch-Operated TV Remotes

These remotes are for individuals who can’t operate standard buttons and don’t have strong voices, but want to control their television.

  • Ablenet Relax: Controls one TV, VCR or any other device that uses infrared. Provides auditory and visual feedback and controls eight functions with a light touch, through scanning. Note: Has adjustable scanning speed and includes an internal, rechargeable battery.
  • TV Remote Module: Ideal for those with impaired fine motor coordination. Remotely gives separate switch access for five functions.

Inexpensive Options for Controlling Lights and Appliances

Many hardware and home improvement stores sell lower-priced products for controlling lights and appliances. You’ll also find these and many other suppliers on the internet.

Button Switch Options

  • Lighted Foot Switch: 9-foot, 3-outlet extension cord with button switch. You can also mount the switch on a table top or bed rail so the button can be easily accessed with your hand.
  • Westek-3-Level-Touch-Dimmer: Converts any lamp to a three-way through a module and touch pad. Includes 8-inch cord with touchpad.

Remote/App Options

These products can only be used with the remote control that comes with them unless specified.

  • Etekcity Wireless 5-in-1 Remote: Uses one remote to control up to five outlets.
  • Smartphone Light Bulb: Automates your home’s lighting via a Bluetooth 4.0-enabled iPhone, iPad, iPad mini or iPod.
  • Vocca Smart Light: A voice-activated bulb adapter. Requires no Wi-Fi, setup or installation. Simply screw into any light socket and use your words to switch the lights on and off.

Screw-In Touch Lamp Modules

These products allow you to convert your existing lamp to a touch-style lamp. They can only be used with lamps that have exposed metal light bulb sockets and metal on the base/stand.


Smart Home Systems

Not long ago, a “Smart Home System” was a timer on your furnace’s thermostat. Today, automated systems can control virtually all aspects of daily living. These systems are convenient for all users but are especially helpful to those with physical limitations. However, these higher-priced options are designed to control multiple items in your home. Their cost increases with the number of devices you want to control.

Here are some things to consider before purchasing your home system:

  1. Does it require a hub?
  2. Do you want to control it by voice?
  3. Does it require Wi-Fi?
  4. Can you control multiple types of devices?
  5. Is it hardwired? Does it plug into a wall outlet or screw into a light socket?

Amazon Devices

  • Amazon Echo (2nd Generation): Allows you to use your voice to make calls or send recorded voice messages (however, both parties must have an Echo, and it must be set up with Alexa). The Echo connects to a cloud-based voice service to provide information, answer questions, play music, read the news, check sports scores or the weather, and more. The 2nd Generation includes a new speaker with Dolby processing; this version is smaller and shorter in size compared to the 1st generation. Amazon continues to expand this product’s capabilities, so check on their website for their latest developments and a list of compatible smart phone products.
    • Portable Battery Base for Echo: Provides up to nine hours of playback time for wireless use of your Amazon Echo. Recharges using the Echo's power adaptor.
  • Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Generation): Does everything the full-size Echo can do, yet is less expensive. Plus, the Dot can be hooked up to your existing stereo system via Bluetooth or line out jack. Has a single 1.6-inch speaker that sends out 360-degree sound.
  • Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Generation): Similar to the 3rd Generation, however, it has a smaller 1.1-inch speaker that has sound coming from multiple port holes.
    • Portable Battery Base for Echo Dot: Allows for wireless use of your Amazon Echo Dot. Secures to the Echo Dot using a magnet with no interference. You can leave it plugged in to the power adaptor without damaging the battery.
  • Amazon Echo Plus: Provides greater smart home support. Has a built-in Zigbee smart home hub, which allows for simple and direct set-up and for connecting compatible ZigBee products.
  • Amazon Echo Show: Lets you make hands-free video calls to friends and family who have an Echo Show or the Alexa App. Offers the same features as the original Amazon Echo but adds an interactive display.
  • Amazon Echo Spot: Allows Alexa to play videos, show photos or show text, so you can see as well as hear the answers to your requests. This product has the same features as the Amazon Show but comes with a smaller, 2-5-inch screen.
  • Amazon Tap: Portable Bluetooth and W-Fi enabled speaker provides up to nine hours of continuous use from a single battery charge.
  • Amazon Echo Connect: Turns your Echo into a voice-controlled speaker phone. You can answer this phone and talk hands-free from across the room. When receiving a call from your contact list, Alexa will tell you who is calling. Note: You need an Echo product as well as an existing landline or a VoIP to make 911 or international calls. One Echo Connect is required for each phone line.

Google Devices

  • Google Home: Smart speaker with support for multiple users; it can distinguish your voice from others in your home to provide a more personalized experience. Provides hands-free calling to your Google contacts. Also allows voice control of compatible smart home devices.
  • Google Home Max: Higher-priced unit with better speakers. Offers the same features as Google Home, allowing you to capitalize on the smarts of the Google Assistant while upgrading the quality of your home audio. Only supports outgoing calls.
  • Google Home Mini: Smaller version of Google Home that is the entry-level gateway for the Google Assistant. This voice-activated smart speaker can understand voice commands from across the room. Note: You must use Chromecast Audio to play music through this device, which only supports outgoing phone calls.

Apple Devices

  • Apple Homekit: The app allows you to control your compatible Homekit accessories from your iOS device. This includes lights, locks, garage doors, etc. Select products can be controlled by voice using "Hey, Siri."
  • Apple HomePod: Powerful speaker adapts to its environment, automatically adjusting to give you optimal sound. Combines Apple Music and Siri to learn your taste in music.

Other Devices

  • autonoME: Designed for hospitals, residential facilities and homes. Allows you to use your voice, eye gaze, touch, head tracker, and sip and-puff to control, compute and communicate with everyday items, including lights, fans, beds and blinds.
  • MEDIAssistant MM40: A computer-based system that controls a variety of devices throughout the home, including infrared-controlled electronics like TVs, VCR’s, DVD players, cable and satellite boxes, and stereo receivers. The system can use the widely available radio frequency technology to control household electrical equipment like lights, fans, lifts, door openers, elevators and thermostats. The unique screen features large, soft buttons that react to the touch of a finger, knuckle or stylus. Users can operate this unit via touch, voice, switch scanning or a mouse, as well as through an app on their smart device.
  • Nucleus: Connects you with the people you love, whether they're downstairs or across the country. Offers the first touch screen with Amazon Alexa, so you can play music, control smart devices or make phone calls using your voice.
  • Possum Primo: Tailored to meet the needs of each user and can be adapted as needs change. Provides remote control of TV, DVD, satellite, cable set top boxes, lights, curtains/blinds, telephone, intercom and doors, beds, chairs, and communication aids. Can be programmed to perform more than 179 functions. Adjusts for volume, brightness and scanning speeds. Simply touch the unit for direct access or use a single switch for scanning.



Light Bulbs, Wall Switches, & Outlets

  • Insteon Comfort Home Automation Starter Kit: Connect the HUB to your existing home router and start adding devices. This kit comes with the Insteon hub central controller and two dimmers.
  • Phillips Hue Light Bulb: Allows you to program and control your indoor and outdoor lights from anywhere. These bulbs use your home Wi-Fi and work with the Phillips Bridge.
  • Smart Things: Lets you monitor, secure and control your home from anywhere. You can add as many smart devices as you’d like.
  • TP Link: Works with Google Assistant and Amazon Echo to control your lighting and appliances while monitoring your energy use. Note: Does not require a hub, and its reliability varies depending on your Wi-Fi coverage.
  • WEMO: Allows you to control your home electronics, power, water and Wi-Fi from your smart phone or tablet when using the appropriate hardware.
  • Wink: Lets you monitor and control everything in your home - from lights, power and security – through a single app and appropriate hardware.

Smart Window Blinds

Smart window blinds are not just convenient; they can also save you money in electric and heating bills.

  • Lutron Serena Shades: Control these shades in the room with a remote or from anywhere in the world with the app on your smart phone.
  • MySmart Blinds: Automates your existing blinds to help you control the security, privacy, lighting and temperature of your home. Also available as a stand-alone unit.

Smart Thermostats

  • Ecobee4: Comes with Alexa Voice Service for built-in voice control. Adjusts temperature and comfort settings from anywhere using your Android and iOS devices. Also works with Apple Homekit, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT and more.
  • Honeywell Lyric T5: Uses Wi-Fi to control your connected home products with a single application. Includes an app that can track your location and adjust the thermostat to operate according to your arrival time. Compatible with Amazon Echo and Apple Homekit for hands-free voice control.
  • Honeywell 7-day Programmable Thermostat: Wi-Fi enabled thermostat that can be controlled with your smart phone or computer. Offers four program periods per day to fit your schedule and save on energy bills. It is compatible with Amazon Echo for hands-free voice control.
  • Nest Learning Thermostat: Learns the temperatures you like and turns itself down when you're away. Automatically lights up to display the time, temperature or weather. It can be controlled from your computer or smart device.
  • Sensi Smart Thermostat: Highly-rated system reduces wasteful heating and cooling when no one is at home. Offers seven-day programming to meet your needs and lifestyle. It is compatible with Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomeKit for voice control.


Additional Resources

Amazon Home Automation Guide: Provides information to make informed decisions about the solutions and products that will best meet your needs. Sections include: energy and lighting, monitoring and security, entertainment, wearable tech, and network accessories.


* The Tech Lab offers these resources for educational purposes and does not endorse any products, including those mentioned on this site. Many others are available. Please check online for additional products, manufacturers and user reviews.