The Feel-Good Side of M2M and Building Automation

Sure, M2M technology used in building automation has all kinds of practical uses for companies and homeowners alike. But recently, the technology has been used for some heartwarming projects, like building “smart” homes that make life easier for wounded veterans. The advantage of M2M goes beyond increasing efficiency and cutting costs—such technology can change lives.  

Organizations like Building for America’s Greatest (BFAB) and the Gary Sinise Foundation have been at the forefront of using building automation in order to improve the day-to-day lives of veterans and other people injured while on duty. The BFAB is a program of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, named for the FDNY firefighter killed during the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. Sinise—the actor who himself portrayed the paraplegic war hero Lieutenant Dan Taylor in “Forrest Gump”—started his foundation for similar reasons.

“Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take for granted,” reads the Sinise Foundation’s mission. “We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security. While we can never do enough to show our gratitude to our nation's defenders, we can always do a little more.” 

Automated lighting, wider doors and special showers to accommodate wheelchairs, cabinets and counters that can be raised and lowered, and central heating and air condition systems that can be controlled by iPads all make life considerably easier for those wounded during service. Recently, these homes have begun to get more media attention as well, shining an even brighter spotlight on such practical solutions.

Men and women wounded in action are not the only group that can benefit from M2M home automation. For instance, seniors who have difficulty walking can unlock and open doors for guests without having to travel long distances around the house. Automated doors can also be configured to read fingerprints, meaning that those who are preset as welcome visitors, like family or healthcare aids, can gain entry without the elderly individual needing to walk to the entrance.

Automatic shutdown of household appliances for those with memory issues is another useful feature of automation, as are automatic reminder systems for regular life events like doctor appointments or card games with friends. Even medication dispensers are “smart” these days. Government statistics suggest that prescription compliance for chronically ill patients’ declines to 50 percent after just six months due to a variety of factors including simple forgetfulness. Thus far, in clinical trials, these automated dispensers have been shown to boost medication compliance to 95 percent for long periods.

Using leading-edge technology to assist wounded veterans and first responders and others who need a customized living environment is a wonderful example of how innovation can have a profound impact on lives beyond simple convenience and cost savings. These homes also demonstrate that the possibilities for automation are extremely wide-ranging, and many of the technology’s most effective uses may have not even been discovered yet. In other words, with M2M technology, it’s a brave new world.