Interview: How does voice control help individuals with limited mobility?

Voice control - while viewed by some as a high-tech gadget, or a gimmick - is oftentimes an essential feature in a home for someone with reduced mobility.

At 1Home we’ve been making life just a little bit easier for Veerle, who uses advanced voice control to control her smart home, for the past few years. We interviewed her recently, and we are happy to share our conversation with all of you.

Q: Veerle, can you tell us a bit about yourself? Can you also tell us how you initially came across 1Home and what motivated you to choose our products to assist you in your home?

I am 54 years born and living in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. At the age of 9, I got the first symptoms of a progressive muscle disease. Over the years I lost more and more muscle power in my limbs. I became a permanent wheelchair user at the age of 21. In that period I graduated as a speech therapist in high school and 3 years later I acquired a master’s degree in speech therapy at the university. For 27 years I worked at the university hospital of Leuven. Because my voice is one of the best-developed parts of my body (giggles) I used it in my free time in a theatre group and also in for studio recording of listening books.

Over the last 3 decennia, my arms also worsened in function. Therefore the implementation of home automation/domotics in my apartment 17 years ago was very helpful. That being said, I could still point/touch the screen of my smartphone that was positioned on my electric wheelchair.

In 2019 my home automation system (based on KNX) needed to be upgraded and from that moment Gino De Landtsheer (G-tech drawing & engineering services)  came into the picture. Gino suggested I upgrade the already installed system to a hybrid KNX-Loxone setup, which included a very nice-looking app. At that time I couldn’t touch my mobile phone with my fingers anymore so the wheelchair constructor made it possible to use my mobile phone (placed on a movable arm) by using the joystick of my electric wheelchair. For a few months, everything worked wonderfully. Then one day, Loxone made an update and there was no compatibility between the pointer (joystick) and the Loxone app anymore. Even though Gino downgraded the app so I could use it again, that wasn’t a long-term solution.

This is when I got advised to start looking into using voice control. After some research, I decided to go with 1Home; it was easy to set up, and everything worked reliably. And I must say, I never looked back!

Q: How does a voice-controlled living space benefit you on a day-to-day basis? Can you give us an example of how you use voice commands to enhance the convenience and functionality of your living space?

During the day I use my voice to put lights on or off, to open, close, and block inner doors, to use my elevator, and to open and close the sunscreens. This voice-controlled home automation concept gives me a level of independence I simply cannot live without anymore.

Q: Would you recommend 1Home products to other individuals with limited mobility, and would you say that it would increase their overall comfort level and independence?

I will recommend your product to individuals with limited mobility without a doubt. All you need is a good voice and articulation to get an improvement of life quality. And even though my speech volume has quietened down over the years, the results are still good!

We are grateful for the time Veerle took to share her story with us, and we hope to continue assisting her and similar individuals with our technology!