At the recent international Low vision conference held in Melbourne from the 31st of March to the 4th of April 2014, the interactive iHouse was dreamt up by Vision Australia and input from Apple as a perfect mix of Apple technology enabling every day activities for people living with vision loss.
Split into four rooms (bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and lounge room) as a square, the iHouse replicated a vision impaired persons' experience in the home with the assistance of the latest accessible technology with Apple or 3rd party related products.
Each of the rooms in the iHouse was appropriately furnished:
Bed, side table, clothing stand in the bedroom,
Fridge, cook top and bench in the kitchen,
Shower stall and cupboards in the bathroom, and
Comfortable charrs, coffee table and large screen TV in the lounge room.
Each of the zones measured 5 by 5 metres, walls with a door separated each room, a large comfortable rug was underfoot in the lounge room, and a sensory garden was located beside the iHouse. If visitors to the stand din’t wish to utilise the doors, they could go out and round the walls separating each room.
Each room for demonstration purposes had its own iPhone and iPad with specific apps plus an Airplay speaker. An iMac was setup in the kitchen, and a Apple TV was connected to a large screen TV in the lounge room. In addition, a stand with an iPad was also connected via Airplay to a large TV screen.
An Apple Wireless keyboard was paired to the Apple TV in the lounge room to allow the navigation of the Apple TV and searching for movies etc. The Logitech Solar KS760 keyboard was also discussed which allows the pairing of up to 3 devices from the one keyboard, so that a person can easily switch from the Apple TV, to the iPad, and then to the iMac if required.
A treadmill, blood pressure monitor, scales, and a Fitbit were all grouped under health in the bathroom. The treadmill was to show case the Fitbit flex app and hardware, whilst the blood pressure monitor and the scales were to show case the ease of use of these Bluetooth connected devices with an iPhone or iPad with their accompanying accessibility options. The Zombies Run App was discussed as a sort of fun way to keep running on the treadmill. The blood pressure monitor proved to be a popular item for visitors to try out.
The sensory Garden next to the iHouse showed visitors the use of the Parrot Flower Power Sensor connected to an iPad via Bluetooth to allow monitoring of soil moisture, temperature etc to allow some one with low vision to take easy care of their herbs, vegetables, plants etc.
The Kitchen show cased the use of the iDevices Kitchen Thermometer to monitor the temperature of meat when cooking, the Woolworth’s app for checking what was in the pantry and adding to a shopping list, and using an iPhone, iPad or a Mac for looking up recipes on the internet. Again, accessed by the built-in accessibility options.
The iMac via the iBooks application allowed visitors to take a look at the free iSee publication by David Woodbridge and iPad Tips and Tricks by Jeanette Davies. Visitors could also find out about all of the items on show case via Safari which showed the iHouse page from the conference website at:
The bedroom show cased:
Siri for setting alarms, checking the weather, and checking appointments for the day,
ABC Radio app for listening to any of the ABC Radio stations from around Australia,
eSleep app for crating different mood sound environments for relaxing or going to sleep,
Looktel Money Reader app for identifying paper notes in a wallet,
Digit-Eyes app to identify colour of clothing, and
a big clock app running on the iPad to easily tell the time.
The lounge room show cased:
the use of the Apple TV to stream movies and TV shows to the large screen TV accessed by either speech output or high contrast low vision options by either the dedicated hardware remote or the Remote app on the iPhone or iPad,
Streaming from the iPad or iPhone the aBC iView app via the Apple TV to the large TV, and
Using the Belkin Stage Tablet stand with the iPad via the Vision Assist app to magnify or OCR hard copy documents such as mail and display again to the Apple TV on to the large screen TV or view just on the iPad itself. The Find My iPhone app was demonstrated from the iPad to find the iPhone via sound so that a person can find where they had put it down or let it slip behind the lounge etc.
Of course, all of the iOS devices (iPhones and iPads), the Apple tV, and the iMac could AirPlay to any of the speakers in the iHouse.
There was a dedicated person in each of the rooms to explain how the apps and hardware worked together and to answer any questions. When a person finished with one room, they were introduced to the person looking after the next room, and so on around the iHouse.
Interestingly, all of the items that were on display in the iHouse, matched pretty well what I use in my own home. This really does show that Apple does not just sell a bunch of separate devices, but devices which can when put all together become a life style and personal solution in the home.
Some of the Apps Used in the iHouse:
Remote (for Apple TV)
Find My iPhone
Looktel Money Reader
iSee Getting Started with Apple Devices from a Blind Persons Perspective by David Woodbridge
iPad Tips and Tricks by Jeanette Davies
Some of the Hardware Used in the iHouse
In All Rooms
Harman Kardon Wireless AirPlay Speakers
Belkin Stage Tablet Stand
Logitech Solar KS760 Bluetooth Keyboard
Withings Wireless BMI Weight Scale
Withings Blood Pressure Monitor
iMac 27 inch
iDevices Kitchen Thermometer
Parrot Flower Power Plant Health Sensor