Smart home technology has been one of the most exciting recent developments for independent living. Home automation allows you to control any device with voice, create motion-triggered sequences and adapt your home to your daily routines.
Our guest for today is Luca Biwer who lives in a smart home that was adapted uniquely for his needs by Haus & Gross company. Luca is a 23 year old passionate mountain biker and a part of the German national downhill team.
His biking career ended in June 2017 when he seriously injured his spine in a mountain bike accident. Since then he has been paralyzed quadriplegically and became dependent on other people’s care. After Haus & Gross adapted his home, he can use voice control to call his caregiver, close the blinds or turn the music on, as well as trigger motion sensors to control the lightning.
A home is an incredibly personal and important space, and anyone can imagine that after the biking accident, performing regular tasks around the home became difficult, if not impossible for Luca. The loss of independence can be deeply frustrating and the smart home technology has provided an opportunity to regain control that Luca has thought was relinquished forever.
The battle hasn’t ended for Luca yet, but technology is at least making his journey a little bit easier. To show the great benefits of an adapted smart home for people with disabilities, we sat down with both Eric Haus (from Haus & Gross) and Luca Biwer himself.
1. Could you tell us more about Luca Biwer and how did you begin your cooperation towards building an automated home for him.
Eric Haus: Luca Biwer was a pro rider in Enduro Worldcup series for Bike Aid and we were familiar with his biking career. When the news of Luca’s accident reached me and my team at Haus & Gross, we sat down with the CEO of Bike Aid (German cycling community) and we came up with the idea to help Luca build a home that takes advantage of everything possible in smart home technology.
2. How did this project differ from your other smart home projects?
Eric Haus: The biggest difference was the fact that we had to discuss and plan - not as usual with architects and home planners but with Luca directly. We had to understand his needs better if we wanted to create a tailored smart home that would benefit him. We were talking less about security systems, comfort and nice-to-have features, and focused more on everything that gives a disabled person the most control over his home. This is when the integration of WLAN, KNX, Siri and Alexa became the focus of our project for Luca Biwer.
3. What was your life like before the accident?
Luca Biwer: Before I had my accident, everything in my life revolved around my bike and going to the mountains to ride it almost every day. I have been on several mountain bike races in Europe as a part of the German national team and was also a coach in my own mountain bike school.
4. Tell us about your typical day and how your smart home is helping you live more independently.
Luca Biwer: Due to my high paralysis, I am dependent on 24-hour care, so I always need to have support from my caretakers or a family member.
On a typical day, I wake up and use Alexa to call my carer, who is in another room that is equipped with an Echo Dot. The ability to call via Alexa has given me a lot of privacy as the carer does not have to be in the same room all the time. While I wait for the caregiver, I can open the blinds and turn on the lights via voice control as well. You can’t argue that this feels great for anyone (:
As you might imagine, it takes a while for the morning nursing activities to be completed. Thanks to the smart control, I can make the time pass by switching on the TV and zap through the channels or turn on the coffee machine and make a cup of coffee.
Since I get cold much faster than other people, I have ceiling heaters, which emit heat via infrared lights in the apartment . I can switch these ceiling heaters on and off via Alexa and adapt them if needed.
In the near future, I will be able to see who is on the doorstep via my Echo Show and I will even be able to open doors via smart doors.
5. How does voice control help you in particular?
Luca Biwer: The voice control gives me back a small but very important piece of autonomy. Every little progress in the field of smart home makes my life a lot easier and I’m grateful for that.
6. Is there something you’d like to say to the people with disabilities that are considering upgrading their home to a smart home in order to live more independently?
Luca Biwer: I highly recommend it to anyone with disabilities to enrich their daily life. The progress of technology and the associated ease of everyday tasks is very beneficial to us! Small tasks, such as controlling the light or switching on the heating, which have been once natural and easy, can be done with voice control and become easy once again!
The smart home market is predicted to grow exponentially in the future. The CEO of smart home security company Notion, Brett Jurgens believes that the smart home is just in its beta stage:
“The general consumer is still getting a grasp on different products and isn’t yet able to fully understand the various platform and integration options.”
And it’s the same with voice control. A lot of people still think it’s just a fun gadget, while as we have seen, it’s already proving to be life-changing for those within assisted living environments. Like in the Luca’s case, voice assistant integrated within a reliable Loxone system, can open up a new level of comfort, independence, and well-being.
This is where 1Home and Haus & Gross come into play.
If you are interested in adapting your home to a smart home with the added dimension of voice and would like expert advice, Haus & Gross are specialists who can help you decide the products that are right for you and offer an installation service.
If you’d like to try out voice control today, you can do so at www.1home.io, in a matter of minutes.