Using Smart Home Technology and Health-Promoting Exercise

Fig. 54.1
Example on a lighting module


Fig. 54.2
Home exercise using screen ooVoo

Technical Problems

Clients encountered some problems when using the smart home technology: (a) motion sensors were too sensitive, as well as not compatible with fluoresced lights; therefore, a wide tape on one side of motion detector was used or moved to another wall, (b) a 5-in-1 remote control stopped working, even with changing the batteries; therefore, a key chain remote was utilized, (c) radio interference was found when the light timer was on; therefore, the code was changed, suspecting other X10 sources inside the home were interfering with the signal, (d) door chime went off in the case of a power outage and resetting chime solved the problem, and (e) if lights were turned off manually, the technology stops working. To resume the scheduled time, the lights should be turned on manually, and then turned off using the X10 program to make it work. Further, old houses and apartment have old phone lines and electricity lines that may interfere with the use of the technology. The solution was to use a filter, a simple plug called SignaLink (Signalink Technologies Inc. 2013), to block noise on the power line. Although OTs needed to intervene to solve each problem, the knowledge was transferred to clients and most of them learned how to manage the smart home technology .

A problem occurred during the exercise session period when Windows or other software updates started and as a result, clients could not join the ooVoo chat room. The solution was to add to the compatibility setting in Internet Explorer. The clients were encouraged to upgrade software during the intervention period. Clients could participate in the exercise session 100 % of the time using the Internet, even when they traveled away from home in the USA.

Implementing the Smart Home Technology

The first step is to decide which smart home automatic features are suitable for a client. Then, load the ActiveHome into the computer and download necessary updates. The PC interface connects a computer via a universal serial bus (USB) cable and sends start and stop instructions to modules through the existing home’s wiring. Dials on the lighting and other modules are set using a screwdriver to have its own alphanumeric code, with a choice of 256 combinations. The schedules work, even when a PC is turned off. The PC can catch radio frequency commands from the universal and key chain remotes via the antenna. Online remote connection is now available, if necessary. After testing and checking the battery in the interface device, instruction on how to use smart home technology needs to be done, taking about 30 min. Finally, clients’ perception of the use of smart home technology was very positive. Of 50 clients, who participated in the intervention, 87.3 % of them found this technology very useful, and 67.6 % found overall operation of the technology easy. About 80 % of them said they recommend its use to elderly people (27 %) and anyone (53 %; Tomita et al. 2010).

The Exercise Sessions

Just before the scheduled exercise time, clients “call in” the chat room to join the session. The monitoring station accepts them as they join the chat room, and they appear on the monitoring screen. The technology is available free of charge, if clients have a dual-core computer and fast Internet connection. Participants are a closed group, and clients can view and talk to all people present on the screen. When the exercise begins, participants enlarge the exercise instructor window for easier viewing. While they are exercising, following the premade instruction video, OTs monitor their safety and correct movements. The exercise can include progressive strengthening and balance exercise, using a standard (18 in.) sturdy chair, TheraBand® with increasing strength, and ankle weighs with increasing weight.

If participants cannot participate in an exercise session, a YouTube link for the week can be made available through e-mail to make up the missed session. Evaluations or feedback of their improvement are important aspects to motivate and increase self-efficacy for exercise.

Evidence-Based Practice

Morris et al. (2012) showed, in a systematic review using a qualitative assessment, that a wide range of smart technologies are available to assist older people to live well at home in the community. However, the authors concluded that the specific evidence for the effectiveness of using smart home technology as a method to promote a healthy and active life is sparsely documented. The study by Tomita et al. (2010) is currently the only study using a randomized controlled trial (RCT). The differences between the two groups were significant. The contributing factor for maintaining (a) cognitive function was the use of the computer to operate the smart home system, e-mail with friends and relatives, connect with the world through Internet sites and play computer games and (b) their mobility level was automated lighting and security systems that kept them safe and active inside their home, maintaining their physical strength . In other words, the participants were not affected by the process of aging in terms of mobility and cognitive function. In contrast, age-equivalent older adults who did not use smart home technology declined in these areas. The gains sustained for 2 years. (Tomita et al. 2006, 2007).


Merits of using smart home technology included an increased sense of security from alarms attached to windows and doors and automatic turn on and off feature for lightning and appliances, which help older adults feel independent and, at the same time, improves mobility. The use of web conference technology that enables home exercise was successful in achieving 100 % attendance. This is a way to bring OT to the home environment utilizing a smart home. Because of the convenience of staying home and having close contact with an OT, it is expected that clients will adhere to the therapy, which will likely bring about positive OT results. Technology advancements are useful for people of all ages, including older adults . However, OTs’ knowledge about smart home technology needs to be broadened for possible incorporation in OT interventions.

The Case Study of Rita: Use of Smart Home Technology to Promote a Healthy and Active Lifestyle


Mobility, physical strength, smart home technology


The theme of this case study concerns the use of smart home technology by older adults to maintain independence through adopting a healthy and active lifestyle.

May 21, 2017 | Posted by in GENERAL | Comments Off on Using Smart Home Technology and Health-Promoting Exercise

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