The high-tech home can span all manner of devices, some connected to the home network or to each other, and some just tech-enabled in a way that brings convenience to the user. So as your next universal design project gets underway, sit down with your clients and talk about how technology might improve how they interact with their home. Remember, universal design is meant to be just that - universal - so take special care to cater the level of technology to the people that will be using the devices the most. A device that calls for use of an app may be unrealistic for an aging grandparent, whereas younger homeowners may be interested in such technology to enhance their abilities in the home. Take a look at the following seven products to envision how their various levels of tech might help your clients.

Tailored Security
Having a home security system used to mean punching codes into keypads and making sure all members of the family were ready to head out the door before arming the system. Abode’s security solution simplifies the process while adding features for more system flexibility. Door and window sensors, motion detectors, key fobs, and cameras communicate with a base unit and a mobile app, and also integrate with ZigBee, Z-Wave, IFTTT, and other IP-connected devices. Users can install Abode products themselves or with professional assistance. In addition to standard home security Abode can be set up for aging-in-place application, with sensors added to medicine cabinets, or motion sensors to detect movement (or lack thereof) in the home. Family members and caregivers can have access to the Abode system to monitor the system and receive alerts to certain system occurrences. Abode eliminates the monthly fees associated with most home security systems, but users can opt to pay for monitoring while they’re on vacation or in other circumstances.

Plug Into Safety
Tamper-resistant outlets just got a high-tech upgrade from Brio. The maker uses specially designed sensors to incrementally increase the outlets’ operation. Brio Safe Outlets begin in a default “off” state at 0 volts, and nudge up to 24 volts when an appropriate device is inserted, such as a lamp plug, as opposed to a knife or paperclip. It’s not until the lamp or other device is powered on that the outlet pulls a full 120-volt current. Brio also offers Smart Outlets with additional sensors that communicate with additional sensors placed throughout the home. When fire, water, or carbon monoxide dangers are detected, the sensors talk to the Smart Outlet, which communicates with the mobile app to send user alerts. Even with advanced technology, all Brio outlets install like traditional outlets.

Got Your Back-up
If the power goes out, chances are your garage door opener goes out of commission - unless it’s plugged into a CyberPower Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) like model LE825G. The unit is designed to safeguard small loads, such as garage door openers, home entertainment systems, and office workstations in the case of a power outage. For a garage door opener, the UPS would install on the garage ceiling and plug into the outlet where the opener would normally plug in. Then, plug the opener in the UPS for back-up power. The unit offers enough power for a handful of full open-and-close cycles so homeowners and their vehicles won’t be stuck inside or outside during a power outage. Recommended for use in temperature ranges from 32 to 104 degree Fahrenheit.

Danze, kitchen faucets, digital kitchen faucets, hands-free kitchen faucet, motion-activated kitchen faucet

Hands-Free Washing
Danze is adding two new kitchen faucets to its Did-U-Wave digital family. Both new faucets feature 3-inch infrared sensors for motion-activated functionality, LED task lighting at the tip of the spray head to provide illumination everywhere the spray goes, and SnapBack technology for reliable hose retraction and head docking. The new designs are available in hard-wired AC or battery-powered DC models (only the AC versions feature task lighting). Other features include aerated and stream sprays, 2.2 gallons-per-minute flow rates, ceramic disc valves, and chrome or stainless steel finishes.

High-Tech House Call
Honeywell’s Life Care Solutions division is bringing technology solutions to home healthcare. The brand’s forthcoming Seymour platform will make Android-based tablets available to patients through their healthcare providers. With tools that allow for monitoring of health conditions, exercise, medications, and well-being, Seymour lets users pull together health information from disparate sources, such as blood pressure cuffs, glucometers, and personal fitness trackers, and provide a secure communication for sharing this data with their healthcare professionals. The two-way flow of health information lets consumers and their doctors quickly address trends and changes in the patient’s overall health, whether they’re in the doctor’s office or at home. Honeywell Life Care Solutions plans to pilot the program later in 2015 with initial testing among consumers following surgery or chronic illness diagnoses.

Redesigned Microwave Drawer
Noting a 20% increase in demand for microwave drawers in each of the last three years, Sharp has introduced its newest Microwave Drawer Oven. The new model offers a an easy-open handle or Easy Touch power-open and hands-free close drawer that glides smoothly so liquids and other dishes won’t spill in motion. The concealed control panel tilts out 45 degrees for easy use, and offers and easy-to-read LCD display. The drawer design puts the microwave at a more convenient under-counter height for wheelchair users, or any homeowners that may be wary of pulling hot dishes from a raised appliance. It also helps clear countertops, allowing for a cleaner kitchen aesthetic with less clutter. Available in 24- or 30-inch models, the Microwave Drawer Oven offers 1,000 watts of power and 1.2 cubic foot capacity.

toto washlet, bidet toilet seat, washlet

Contemporary Clean
A person’s independence and dignity shouldn’t be negatively impacted by their age or abilities. To help preserve both in the bathroom, Toto’s Washlet product line offers a range of features that help users stay clean and dry with little or no assistance from caregivers. Designed to replace toilet bowl seats and lids, a variety of Washlet models are available in round and elongated designs. Functionality includes a wand for front and rear cleansing with multiple spray settings, as well as warm air drying. Users can also adjust the temperature of the water and the seat itself. Some models come with remote controls for setting adjustments, while others incorporate the controls into a panel alongside the seat.