HIGH-TECH AGEING: Sue Kane, husband Leo and dog Poppy make themselves at home checking out the new smart apartment, which developers say is the way of the future for residents to
HIGH-TECH AGEING: Sue Kane, husband Leo and dog Poppy make themselves at home checking out the new smart apartment, which developers say is the way of the future for residents to "age in place”. Kristin Kelly Photography

Meet the smart home where Google does the hard work

THE idea that you can say "good morning" to your apartment and it then does everything for you, including opening blinds, turning on lights, the radio or TV, and boiling the kettle, sounds like the stuff of science fiction.

But it has become a reality at one apartment in Sydney's Ashfield, and developers Stockland say the "smart" apartment is the way of the future to keep older residents living at home longer.

Other smart functions include sensors which can be programmed to alert emergency services or a family member if the door is not opened after a certain period, in case a resident falls in their bathroom, for instance.

Similarly, sensors can monitor medication cabinets and send reminders to residents to access it, or let family know if pills have been missed.

Sue Kane is a resident at the over-55s Cardinal Freeman, The Residences community where the $1.4 million apartment has been built, and was offered the chance to check it out.

She was amazed that a simple "Hey Google, good morning" could set so many things in motion.

"Goodbye Google" turns everything off, so you don't have to worry that you have left the stove or iron on, for instance.

Smart plugs fitted throughout allow residents to control any connected appliance, which can also be set to operate at certain times of day, and you can save on energy bills with the self-regulating temperature control system.

"I think it takes a lot of stress out of life for someone who needs that sort of help, particularly someone older who is living alone," Sue said.

And, while as a fit and healthy just-turned 75 she didn't feel she needed it just yet, she wasn't daunted by the technology.

"I would adapt instantly, I think - it was very simple to use," she said.

"There is the element of it knowing everything you are doing, but for someone who is not well, incapacitated or living alone, it is just brilliant."

She liked the idea that you could either let someone in if you were unable to get out of bed, or be alerted that someone had entered your premises.

Just being able to ask the system transport timetables, weather forecasts and other simple questions could make life easier for people with sight problems or having difficulty accessing information, she said.

"A lot of people - residents and their families - would be relieved to have this kind of assistance."

Stockland regional development manager Calum Ross said that most importantly, the smart apartment had been designed to "allow residents to 'age in place', meaning that people can live in their home and be independent for much longer".

"One of the most common motives for moving into a Stockland retirement village is to maintain autonomy and reduce reliance on family and friends," Mr Ross said.

"The smart home allows just that - for residents to take a more active role in managing their homes and daily routines."

He quoted Stockland statistics which show that 80 per cent of its over-55s residents are less likely to call an ambulance or visit the emergency department, require 96 per cent fewer mental health consultations, and stay out of aged care for five years longer than the national average.

The home will be programmed to the resident's exact specifications, and they will be given training in the technology and 24-hour technical support.

Phone 1800 727 170 or go to cardinalfreeman.com.au for more information ... and watch out for those flying cars, they have to be coming soon!


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