Beyond the Door

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Most people open and close doors every day with very little thought. For me and many with disabilities the task can be daunting or even impossible. My new home is almost finished and I wanted to make it extremely accessible with my doors being no exception. My architect came up with idea of using a huge pocket door to separate my bedroom from my living room. I wanted to have the ability to open and close it  without any assistance. For years door openers for swing doors have existed, but very little for residential sliding doors. I was determined to find a solution when I found Autoslide Automation System that made a door opener for all types of sliding doors. I reached out to them and they offered to sponsor me with their Autoslide Automation System.

Most door openers like the ever popular Open Sesame which is used on swing door like my front door simply open and close the door. Yes, the Autoslide Automation System open and closes the door, but it is much more advanced than that. It actually learns about your door and entry. It calculates how big the opening is and how heavy the door is. It uses this to know how much power and force to use. It also has safety features to reopen if something touches it when it is trying to close. This all might sound very complicated and well it is, but it does not make it any harder to use. I actually found it much easier to setup than the swing door opener as the Autoslide Automation System does most of the programming work.

There are several ways to open and close the Autoslide Automation System. You can use a keychain remote control, a wall mounted remote control, a motion sensor, or as I did connect to a home automation system. One day hopefully in the very near future I hope to have the financial ability to get an assistance dog. When I do the Autoslide Automation System has a pet feature so my assistance dog can also use the Autoslide Automation System.

Technology At Home

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As you probably know from reading my blog I am in the process of renovating my new home. I have found ways to make most of the items accessible for my needs. I am planning to Incorporates a lot of technology to make everything extremely accessible. Since I was a little kid I was a huge fan of the Jetsons and the house in the movie Casper. I think my home will have more wiring than a space station. I will be using a variety of software which includes CastleOS, MobiLinc, and iRule. These products will allow me to control my home either by voice, my iPhone, my iPad, my computer, a wall interface, or on a schedule. I am also now investigating the possibility of using wearable technology. I will be automating almost everything which includes my lights, air conditioning, doors, window coverings, water, entertainment system, television, music, and some furniture. I was also lucky enough to find an amazing oven that will make it much easier for me to cook. I am now struggling with how to make the refrigerator accessible. I am also looking for a way to make the pocket door between my bedroom and living room electric. I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions. I also want to hear what you have done to make your home special.

Home Automation Guru

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This blog and my projects have led me to meet some amazing people. Their assistance and support has done so much to help me. One of those people is Matt Chiste, Home Automation Guru, who recently wrote a blog about the CastleHub where he mentioned this blog and me. Please check out the article by clicking here.


Can you hear me?

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One of my sponsors is a company called CastleOS that created a system that allows people to control almost everything in their home using their voice. CastleOS recently created a new CastleHUB that will make the implementation of the system even simpler.

From the very beginning I thought that CastleOS was an ideal product for persons with disabilities. Christopher Cicchitelli the Chief Executive Officer of CastleOS thought so as well. CastleOS is certified with the Veterans Administration as a home environmental controller which allows disabled veterans in some cases to get CastleOS at no cost.

To take their desire to help support persons with disabilities one step further CastleOS created a buy one give one program as part of their CastleHub Kickstarter CampaignCastleOS is offering backers that pledge $999 or more the option to not only buy a CastleHUB for themselves, but to buy one for a person with a disability as well. Check out this program and the other ways CastleOS is supporting persons with disabilities by visiting their CastleHub Kickstarter Campaign.

Music All Around


Just a few days ago Sonos sponsored me with one of their wireless HiFi systems. They gave me a Connect, a Boost, a PlayBar, and two Play:1 speakers. So far I have only setup one of the Play:1 speakers as I do not want any damage to come about during the construction on my home.

Setting up the Play:1 was probably one of the easiest things I have ever done. You simply plug it in and follow the on screen guide. Within a few minutes I had all my downloaded and streaming music available to play. The Play:1 speaker is small and sleek, but sounds loud and clear. I am looking forward to setting up the rest of my new Sonos wireless HiFi system.

The main controls for my home automation system are going to be iRule and CastleOS. Both of these systems are designed to integrate with the Sonos wireless HiFi system. With these systems I will be able to use my voice, an iOS device, and more to listen to music, news, television, and audiobooks wirelessly throughout my home. All I can say is it is big change from when I was a kid listening to vinyl records on my Sesame Street record player.

Show me the money…

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A while back I wrote the blog entry Coin Vs. Cards about Coin an alternative to carrying a wallet full of credit cards. Since then several products have been announced in this category. These include Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Wocket, Plastc, LoopPay, and Coin. I really cannot speak to Google Wallet as I am not an Android user. I like the idea of these devices because many times it is difficult for me to take cards out of my bag. I also like that I can keep my cards locked up somewhere as I am always worried about the possibility that new care takers could make copies of my cards when I am sleeping or showering. Others I know in similar situations to me have been taken advantage like this many times.

I recently got the iPhone 6 and have Apple Pay which looks great, but in my opinion has some serious drawbacks. The main drawback is I have had it for several weeks now and have not found one place to use it at. Second you have to be with it to use it so it will not work at restaurants where you give your server your card.

Coin the device I originally wrote about looks very promising as you can use it anywhere credit cards are accepted. It looks just like a credit card so you able to use it at restaurants and gas stations. It does hold eight cards which seems like a lot to me, but compared to the other options this is limited. The only downside is it must be replaced when the battery dies and at $55 that could get costly. The main issue with the Coin is that it has been plagued with delays. If and when I get a Coin I plan to do a follow up review.

Plastc looks very promising and could be a big rival to the Coin. It again looks just like a normal credit card. It has a small touch screen that allows you to switch between up to twenty different cards. It is compatible with credit cards, gift cards, touchless NFC cards, magstripe cards, barcode cards, store cards, loyalty cards, entry cards, and more. It is $155 which at $100 more then Coin may seem like a lot, but the battery is rechargeable. It also has a lot of security features that include facial authentication. If I get a Plastc when it comes out I will also do a review.

Wocket seems to work in the same manner as Plastc and Coin, but instead the Wocket Card is linked to a Wocket rather than your phone. The Wocket is a small touch screen device that that acts as your electronic wallet. It looks really nice and simple to use, but I am not sure I want to carry around another device. If I get a Wocket when it comes out I will also do a review.

LoopPay is currently in my opinion the best. This is for three main reasons. First, it is available now in several models which include the LoopPay Fob, LoopPay Card, and LoopPay ChargeCase. Second, it works almost everywhere. Last, it is just super cool. LoopPay recently sent me the LoopPay Fob and LoopPay ChargeCase to review. The LoopPay Fob is what I have been primarily using. It is a small device that fits on your keychain and charges up once a month. You simply plug it into your phone and swipe your cards into it. After that you simply select your default card. When you are at checkout you hold the fob over the magstripe reader and press the button. Like magic the reader thinks you swiped your card. The only downside I see is it does not work at gas stations or ATM machines, but supposedly their is a way to trick the machines. The only other thing is the fact to switch cards you must plug it in to your phone. The LoopPay ChargeCase has some great features which include adding extra battery life to your iPhone 5/5s and it allows you to switch cards via bluetooth. The downside to the LoopPay ChargeCase is you have to give your phone to your server at a restaurant. It also like all charging cases adds weight to your iPhone. The LoopPay ChargeCase does come with a LoopPay Fob which is a great plus. The LoopPay Card is LoopPay’s newest device which looks great. It works just like the LoopPay Fob as a standalone device, but allows you to switch cards via bluetooth. If I get a LoopPay Card I will do a follow up review on it.

Simply Words

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I am always looking for ways to do things better and faster. One thing now that I am doing a lot more writing is typing. I tried dictation software and feel we have a love/hate relationship. Sometimes I feel it is very helpful and well sometimes it is not. I will say not trying to sound egotistical I can type very quickly so it was not worth the stress. I recently had Smile Software sponsor me with their TextExpander software, which I quickly fell in love with. TextExpander allows me to set shortcuts for the most common things I type. For example, if I type ;em it expands to my email address. I find it very helpful for things like entering my library card number on the library website. I also downloaded TextExpander Touch on my iPhone. This allows me sync all my shortcuts via Dropbox. This may sound silly at first, but you would be amazed at how time it can save you.

Do you use any technology to simply make simple tasks even simpler? Please share them in the comments section.

First Siri, Now Jibo.

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My mind is just rattling with ideas of how Jibo can help someone with disability.

Do you have the power?

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One of my concerns with moving into my new home is electricity. First, I am looking for ways to keep my electric bill low as I use a lot of energy for all my medical devices. I am also looking to create a backup power system incase I lose electric. I am planning to get rid of my traditional water heater and replace it with a tankless water heating system. The space that I save from removing the hot water tank I will use for bank of batteries along with a power inverter. I am also investaging the practicality of possibly using solar panels, wind power, and or fuel cells. None of these look to promising as I am moving to a condo. If you have any ideas, are interested in helping to sponsor this project, or just want to help please let me know.

If you build it…

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Over the next few weeks I will begin construction and implementing a lot of technology that will give me the freedom and independence to live alone. In order to make everything accessible I will be making a lot of custom items to support my special needs that I broke down into several categories.

First is the kitchen which consists of developing an accessible refrigerator, accessible cabinetry, and accessible pantry, The second is creating an accessible coffee table that can change height. The next is my bedroom which includes an accessible pocket door, a height adjustable bed, a hidden cabinet system to conceal my medical equipment that I use for sleeping, and an accessible desk that will allow me to work by myself. The last project is a tray system for my wheelchair.

In order to accomplish this I will be using a lot of linear actuators. Below is an amazing project showing how linear actuators can make things accessible.

If you are interested in helping me with my project please fill out the following form.

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