A washing machine that washes, dries and irons clothes; a spoon that doesn’t spill, and kitchen worktops and appliances which rise and fall at the touch of a button will be among the inventions on display at Blackwood’s annual exhibition and AGM tomorrow (Tuesday, September 15).
They are just some of the technologies developed by the housing and care provider, which will reveal a life-size concept house as part of its innovation showcase at Dynamic Earth, to help make everyday life easier for people with disabilities and mobility issues.
The Edinburgh-based firm, whose team of builders will be working round the clock, will work on its replica walk-through ‘smart’ home overnight ready to reveal to delegates tomorrow evening.
Its smart technology care project – a state-of-the-art system of connected touch screen devices which can influence almost everything in the house from the ability to open curtains, to switching on TVs, ordering shopping or planning care and support with family and friends – will also take centre stage at the Edinburgh event.
According to Blackwood, its AGM will focus on how technology and digital inclusion can help people live more independently.
Chief executive Fanchea Kelly said: “We always strive to create an ‘AGM with a difference’ and we are most definitely doing that this year by taking on such ambitious project, with such tight timescales.
“Next year we will be launching our highly accessible concept house in Dundee and we want to demonstrate to as many people as possible what can be achieved through modern technology to improve disabled people’s lives, every single day.
“All of the inventions are tested by residents at Blackwood who give valuable feedback on how the designs can be improved, which helps ensure that they are as effective as possible and that there is a constant challenge to evolve and improve. This is co-design in practice and we are most interested in the feedback we will get from customers and from fellow professionals.
“Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and we believe technology can be a powerful catalyst for innovation and design in the independent living sector; the Concept House is central to this.”
Other innovative features of the ‘smart home’ include an oven door which folds inwards to make it more easily accessible for wheelchair users, and a bathroom sink and toilet on track systems, which can be moved up and down as required.
Blackwood says the replica home will also display improved aesthetics such as bright colours on white backgrounds to help those with visual impairments.
Fanchea added: “Although the real driver behind the concept house is using technology to improve independent living, it is important that it also looks good so people can truly enjoy being in their home.
“For us it must be beautiful and move far from the kind of medical or institutional look that care homes have tended to have in the past.
“It’s a very exciting time for us with the launch of our Concept House in Dundee scheduled for 2016. We’re already testing our smart technology care system in Stirling and Dundee with residents and tenants keen to get involved.
“We would be delighted to have as many people as possible visiting our event to give us feedback on both the house and the care system and identify any improvements that can be made while both are still in the development stage. It will be a truly interactive day as we aim to capture this information from the experts!”
“We very much pride ourselves on being at the forefront of the housing and care sector, but to remain there it’s vital that we listen to the ever evolving needs of our service-users to help shape our future and we hope the AGM will provide the perfect platform to do just that.”
Headquartered in state-of-the-art, wheelchair-friendly offices in Edinburgh, Blackwood employs more than 350 staff across Scotland and has a range of properties kitted out with the latest bespoke features to help make the lives of its disabled customers easier.
Working in 29 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, the housing and care provider is more widely dispersed – in more than 1,600 homes throughout Scotland – than any other provider and says it has embraced the challenges of taking housing and care into innovative areas at a time when funding is increasingly limited.