Smart-device environmental control systems: experiences of people with cervical spinal cord injuries
B Hooper, M Verdonck, D Amsters, M Myburg, E Allan
Background: Environmental control systems (ECS) are devices that enable people with severe physical limitations to independently control household appliances. Recent advancements in the area of environmental control technology have led to the development of ECS that can be controlled through mainstream smart-devices. There is limited research on ECS within Australia and no known research addressing smart-device ECS. The current study sought to explore users’ experiences with smart-device ECS within Australia.
Methods: The study followed a single embedded case study method. Participants (n = 5) were existing ECS users with a cervical spinal cord injury. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with participants, reflexive journals and field notes. An inductive approach was used to analyze the data thematically.
Results and Conclusions: The experience of using a smart-device ECS presented both opportunities and costs to users. The opportunities included: independent control, choice, peace of mind, connection, effective resource use, and control over smart-phone functions and applications. The associated costs included: financial, time, frustration, and technical limitations. While findings are similar to previous research into traditional ECS this study indicates that smart-device ECS also offered a new opportunity for users to access mainstream smart-device functions and applications. Future research should investigate methods and resources that practitioners could utilize to better support new users of smart-device ECS.