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Smart House opens doors

Living Resources unveils state’s first barrier-free home

David Putnam, of Living Resources, holds an iPad for Deanna Bandy, 47, as he demonstrates to her how she can use the device to control her environment, such as dimming the lights or controlling the television.

David Putnam, of Living Resources, holds an iPad for Deanna Bandy, 47, as he demonstrates to her how she can use the device to control her environment, such as dimming the lights or controlling the television. Photo by John Purcell.

— Nicole Scanu wasn’t shy about showing how excited she was to move into the state’s first barrier-free Smart House for people with developmental and physical disabilities.

Living Resources unveiled the Smart House, located off Ardsley Road in Guilderland, on Tuesday, Jan. 21, which harness technology to allow residents to maintain an independent lifestyle.

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Living Resources CEO Fredrick Erlich, center, talks about the importance of harnessing technology to allow people with developmental and physical disabilities to live more independently. Nicole Scanu, front right, is one of the first two people moving into the new Smart House in Guilderland.

Scanu, 27, who is one of the first two residents, also used technology to help share her feelings to a gaggle of video cameras and reporters attending the grand opening. Through a small sticker placed on her forehead, she was able to move a cursor on a tablet and have the computer speak her sentence aloud.

“This house means a lot to me,” Scanu said.

The cost to build the innovative house was funded through a $650,000 grant from the state, with Sen. Neil Breslin securing the funding. Private funding was also used to integrate technology into the building, which BBL Construction Services designed and built.

The home features a universally accessible, energy-efficient design, along with advanced technology integrated into the building to assist with everyday tasks such as lowering or raising the blinds via iPad. Six individuals will be moving into the house, which is hooked up to solar panels on site providing electricity and hot water.

“A house like this gives them so much control over their environment,” CEO of Living Resources Fredrick Erlich said. “It is a wonderful thing to not depend on staff for everything.”

Hannaford Supermarket provided $50,000 toward the kitchen, which features self-closing cabinets and drawers, an induction stovetop that’s never hot to the touch, special cookware to heat food safely and LED lighting with sensor capabilities. All counters and cabinets are compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Residents can also research recipes in the kitchen and receive step-by-step audio instructions from an iPad while preparing a meal. The iPad, which utilizes AbleLink technology, allows residents to control entertainment systems and video monitoring.

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