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.

National Mobility Awareness Month Local Hero Contest

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I have recently entered the 4th Annual National Mobility Awareness Month Local Hero Contest which is run by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. The winner of the contest can win a new accessible vehicle. I am not sure if I will win or not, but I only have a chance if people vote. Please vote each day through May 31st, 2015 and remember to answer the bonus question. To vote click on the “Get Started” button below which will take you to my profile page and to find out the answers to the bonus questions follow me on Twitter @zkylet.

Fair Housing Month

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April was Fair Housing Month and in celebration I recently wrote the following article for the Disability Independence Group‘s monthly newsletter.

What is a home? A home is a place to call your own. It is a place where you feel safe and are most comfortable. Owning your home can give you a sense of security and the ability to create a sanctuary. It allows you to have control and freedom. If done right a person with a disability should feel the least disabled in their own home. It will take a lot of time and planning, but steps can be taken to reduce limitations.

There are lots of great resources that can support a person with a disability who owns their own home. When it comes to taxes you can write off many of the modifications that are made for accessibility. In many counties you can also be exempt from paying property taxes. Organizations like Vocational Rehabilitation can assist with the cost of certain modifications. Blue Badge Homes is a new website that acts as a marketplace for accessible real estate. Chances are you will never find exactly what you want. Just look for something with good bones and potential. The fun is getting to make it exactly the way you want it. Do not be afraid to get messy, get creative, and think way outside the box.

Getting Closer

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A while back I wrote the blog entry One Step Closer about how the Florida International University Electrical and Computer Engineering students were assisting me to make my kitchen accessible. The students just finished their prototype for their senior project. They are now in a competition and need help getting votes. Please help me support them back by liking their video at https://www.facebook.com/Savi.Perez/videos/10153298493187803.

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.

Supporting Others

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This Sunday I volunteered as the Activities and Entertainment Lead for the 2015 National Multiple Sclerosis Society Aventura Walk. Many people tend to assume that since I am volunteering I have Multiple Sclerosis, but I do not. If you wondering I have a neuromuscular disorder that I was born with. I feel that if we are able to support another we should. A few years ago a friend of mine who worked for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society asked me to help. At the time I did not know anyone who had Multiple Sclerosis, but I was thrilled to help. Today years later I am still helping and now know several people that are affected by Multiple Sclerosis. I am not saying you have to volunteer, give money, or support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society or any cause for that matter. I am just saying that it is very rewarding even if you do not have a direct relationship with the cause.

If you would like to contribute to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society please click here. Please share your volunteer stories in the comments section below.

Getting Creative

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Have you done anything creative lately? I am looking to see how I get creative and make some new things to improve my life. I have been looking at all types of technology that include 3D printing, CNC machines, metal working, wood working, Arduinos, microcomputers, and more. The maker movement is a rapidly growing movement and can have real benefits for persons with disabilities. If you look on the internet there are countless stories of 3D printing being used for making prosthetics. It is no longer necessary to invest huge amounts of money in research and development to create something custom. This is extremely beneficial as products that can support a person with disability can be created to fit a unique set of needs.

I am looking to make attachments for my wheelchair that can help me do things easier. I have been lucky enough to be sponsored by Bottle Cutting CompanyDewalt, and Kreg Tool Company. I am now looking to get my hands on more tools and devices that can help me make my ideas come to fruition. I am constantly doing research on YouTubeAdafruit, ThingiverseMy Mini Factory, and Instructables.

If you would like to help me build something, have an idea for something, or you have built something please share it in the comments section below. If you would like to sponsor me with tool, technology, or product please click here.

Music All Around

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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.

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