HomePortal brings the incredible power of a voice-controlled home to people who are blind, or people whose visual impairment interferes with typical daily activities needed to live independently.
HomePortal couples CreateAbility’s “Sparkplug” skill with Z-wave modules to detect and control items in the home.
Many commands and requests are possible, but here are a few typical examples:
“Alexa, tell Sparkplug to turn the fan on” (light, space heater, etc.)
“Alexa, tell Sparkplug to tell me when the dryer is completed”
“Alexa, ask Sparkplug to teach me the basics” (or, show me an example)
Deliveries to demo centers and Independent Living Centers have already started and the team is gearing up for orders to the general public.
One exciting new component of the HomePortal system is an Alexa-controlled Microwave.
Being able to use something as simple as a microwave means so much more for the individual that isn’t able to see the buttons or person that has trouble pushing those buttons. To them, it was one more element of life that was not available to them before without assistance. With an interactive microwave, the user gains not only the function of an everyday appliance but the more important benefit of an added layer of independence.
Our interactive microwave utilizes Amazon Echo’s technology through CreateAbility’s Sparkplug system. Like Amazon Echo, the microwave responds to a full range of pre-established voice commands such as:
• “Alexa, tell Sparkplug to microwave pizza, 2 slices.”
• “Alexa, tell Sparkplug to microwave popcorn.”
• “Alexa, ask Sparkplug for the remaining cook time.”
Our special internal module doesn’t alter the microwaves original capabilities so everything else remains functional as well, simply enhanced. This makes it easy for others in the home to use the microwave in the typical way, via the front panel.
HomePortal was made possible through a Phase II grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), grant # 90BI0022.