Living Resources resident Nicole Scanu uses her smart board to let Living Resources CEO Fredrick Erlich, near left, and Molly Tarleton, a community relations representative with Hannaford Supermarkets, far left, and other dignitaries present, know exactly what the organization’s new barrier-free Smart House in Guilderland, N.Y., means to her during its official unveiling on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Health, independence, and the pursuit of happiness are top priorities for all, and a new local smart home will soon provide just that for individuals with disabilities.
Created by Living Resources, Smart House residents can manage the house’s amenities such as lights, shades, music, and fans through an iPad attached to their wheelchair. The home is equipped with a “genie in the wall” that will make the daily lives of smart house residents easier, as Living Resources CEO Fredrick Elrich explained.
The technology allows residents to have control over their environment rather than call in staff to assist with every task. With a 24-hour staff still on hand if needed, the smart home will maximize opportunities for residents to independently access all elements of the home.
The brand new Guilderland smart house on Ardsley Road is a single level barrier-free space that will soon be home to six physically disabled adults.
“Everybody wants to remain independent,” said Erlich. Living Resources is an Albany-based organization in their 40th year of helping individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This is also their 40th house built in the Capital Region.
The homes were designed on principles of independence for residents, and advanced technology, a green energy level of efficiency. Solar panels behind the house minimize the endeavor’s carbon footprint, along with other energy efficient devices in the construction and operation of the home.
The mission of the homes is to allow individuals with disabilities to live independently, with an improved quality of life, and avoid residing in a total care facility.
Living Resources hinted at their ultimate national agenda of making smart homes the norm in a press conference on Tuesday at the Guilderland Smart Home.
Help from sponsors made the new smart home possible, and dreams come true for its six residents. Representative Molly Tarleton from Hannaford Supermarkets announced a donation of $50,000 to Living Resources in support of the smart house. The donation will be used to apply the principles of universal accessible design to the safe and smart kitchen, the heart of the home.
“The smart house will make a difference in the lives we serve by offering independence and safety” said Richard Fuerst, president of the living resources foundation.
“This is not only a beautiful home for anyone,” said Living Resources Director of Development Bonnie Unser, “but for the people who are going to live in this house, it’s a home for a lifetime.” Unser said that relocating can be particularly jarring for those they serve, and having a permanent residence fit for their needs will give residents comfort and peace of mind.
“This house means a lot to me” said soon-to-be resident Nicole Scanu, operating her personal speaking device by typing the sentence hands-free, with a mouse guided across the screen by a sticker on her forehead. Scanu and her future roommates will be moving into their new home next month. The residents are currently being trained on how to operate the different features of the home, which was finished this fall.