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November 17, 2018

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Smart homes making life easier, especially for older residents

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Wade Vandervort

Smart devices are displayed in a kitchen during a Cox Smart Home tour, Thursday, April 5, 2018. The Cox Smart Home by KB Home is designed to showcase how high-speed internet, smart devices and monitoring apps offer greater control, comfort, safety and independence to older adults.

Cox Smart Home Tour

A realistic robotic cat designed to comfort patients with Alzheimer's disease who are unable to care for a live cat is displayed during a Cox Smart Home tour, Thursday, April 5, 2018. The Cox Smart Home by KB Home is designed to showcase how high-speed internet, smart devices and monitoring apps offer greater control, comfort, safety and independence to older adults. Launch slideshow »

Fifteen years ago, a friend of Sam Palermo’s showed him a comic strip of a person getting a medical exam through their television.

A joke then, Palermo told his friend the idea wouldn’t be so laughable in the future. And he was right.

“You know what, we walked in here and we just saw it come to life here today,” Palmero said Thursday as he toured a technology-filled model smart home in North Las Vegas.

The model home is a partnership between builder KB Home and Cox Communications, which provides cable TV, telecommunications and home automation services. It is filled with technology to make living easier, especially for older people.

Palermo and his wife, Jan, who live in an age 55-plus community, toured the smart home and saw a lot of features they liked.

“As we get older, we’ve seen a lot of things that could benefit us in the future,” Jan Palermo said. “We’re already looking at staying in our home long-term.”

One feature that stood out for the couple was technology allowing a patient to consult with a doctor remotely from their home. “The interactive health care — that was exciting,” Jan Palermo said.

Trapollo

Trapollo, a division of Cox Communications focused on health care, showed off its telemedicine program, which includes devices to monitor and send blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen readings and other information to a doctor via the internet. Patients can then use a tablet to have a face-to-face video consultation with the physician.

Doug Rowe, senior telehealth territory manager for Trapollo, said the firm helps match the patient with the best in-home technology, based on their medical condition. “It can be as simple as setting up a scale in their home ... or we can put in a whole range of devices,” he said.

Rendever

As a person ages, travel can become burdensome.

Rendever, a virtual reality company, looks to solve the problem by taking people to places all over the world via computer-generated simulation. Its VR platform, which uses Samsung devices, is designed specifically for seniors.

“When the ability to travel goes away, it can be really tough,” said Kyle Rand, chief executive officer for Rendever. “We see social isolation, we see depression. These things combined lead to cognitive decline, increased risk of dementia.”

By typing an address into the platform, a person is taken to a place that is special to them — perhaps a childhood home or a former school, anywhere covered by Google Maps. In addition, multiple users can be synched to the same trip. “They’re all experiencing the same thing,” Rand said.

Smart devices

An array of smart gadgets can make life more convenient, safer and alert family members or emergency services if help is needed.

Take the Double 2 Telepresence Robot by Double Robotics. Affixed with an iPad, the user can control the robot remotely, keeping an eye on a loved one and communicating via video.

Other sensors in the home can detect dangerous levels of carbon dioxide, smoke, water, broken windows and open doors.

“The smart home is a great way to watch over your loved ones,” said Juergen Barbusca, a Cox Communications spokesperson. “This gives a caregiver the opportunity to monitor basically everything around the home. It lets them know that everything is OK.”

Smart kitchen

Smart appliances like coffee makers and slow cookers can make whipping up a meal easier than ever.

One such kitchen helper, the Anova sous vide precision cooker attaches to the side of a pot, circulating and heating water to an exact temperature while cooking food that is sealed in a bag or glass jar and dropped into the pot. The gadget can be controlled via a smartphone app.

“A lot of time when older people live by themselves, they don’t have a reason to cook for more than one,” said Whitney Bond, a cookbook author and food blogger. “This is a great way to cook a steak for one, making a healthy meal, keeping them away from microwavable meals, which are high in sodium and aren’t heart-healthy.”

“This is also great for those who might be disabled, because you can control it from your smartphone,” she said.