Remote Control Systems
These are devices that enable control of the immediate environment through alternative means, for example a remote control can be used to turns lights on and off, adjust air conditioning or to use a telephone. Different types of remote control have different methods of accessing the device. These include direct access (finger press), indirect access (touching a switch), voice recognition or a combination of these. If using voice recognition, a back-up means of control is recommended.
Remote control systems are sometimes referred to as environmental control units (ECU).
Factors to Consider when Selecting a Remote Control
- Which appliance/s require an alternative control device?
- What enevironment/s will the remote control be used in?
- What movements are available to the user to control the remote control within these environments?
- What backup systems are in place for if the user becomes unwell or has an emergency?
- Ability of the user to learn new asks and remember the steps
- Set-up and training needs
- Ongoing support and troubleshooting needs
- Properties of infra-red remotes (line of sight)
- Funding available for remote control products
An appointment with an Occupational Therapist to explore all available options is recommended.
Different Types of Remote Control's
Remote Control's Capable of Turning One Appliance On and Off
- Plug-in appliance timer units are available however, independent control is limited as they are restrcited to pre-set times
- Switch adapted toys and quipement are available to enable access to play, leisure and learning appliances, for example CD players
Remote Basic ECU
- A basic level ECU is desgned to enable on/off control of a single appliance using an infra-red remote or a plug-in switch. It can be useful for any electrical appliance, for example lamps, radios or blenders.
Remote Control's Capable of Turning Multiple Appliances On and Off
These remote control's allow for remote on/off control of electrical appliances and lamps that run off mains power. They consist of modules and/or receiver units and a remote. In general, the module/receiver plugs directly into the existing power point and the appliance/lamp is plugged into it. One remote control is used to operate all appliances linked to the module/receiver. It is important to consider that the remotes often have small buttons and thus are maninly used in conjunction with other remote control 's that allow for switch access or direct access.
Remote Control's Capable of Replacing Standard Infrared Remote Controls
These are specialised remote control's (most commonly remote controls) that can learn the infra-red signals generated by standard remote controls. There are two types of specialised remote control's available.
- Devices which contain pre-set signals that need to be matched with the appliance to be controlled
- Devices which can "learn" the signal from the existing remote control.
These remote control's can be used to replace existing remote controls for a wide variety of appliances and can often be used to incorporate a number of remote controls into the one unit, offering maximum environmental control. Some of the features offered are; simpler buttons, larger buttons, switch access and speech recognition. The devices will vary according to the number and type of appliances they are capable of controlling.
Low Technology Alternatives
In some cases, other techniques may be employed to avoid the need for remote control use. For example, the use of the blunt end of a pencil to press smaller buttons or the gluing of a small lever extension to light switches.
Re-arranging the environment may also assist , for example installing a light switch at wheelchair height or the positioning of a remote control in a permanent location on a fixed surface where it can be accessed.