Take a moment to consider the possible implications of a blind person or couple forgetting to close the curtains or turn off the lights before going to bed. Having no light perception means that that is a very possible eventuality - and perhaps even a regular occurrence. Now IKEA are helping bring smarter, more affordable, homes to people with disabilities.
IKEA's smart home devices
IKEA already have a range of connected-home devices including smart plugs that allow you to turn less-smart devices on and off by an app or by voice, as well as smart lightbulbs that can be similarly controlled. Among the thousands of exhibitors at this year's Consumer Electronic Show, IKEA unveiled a range of smart blinds to add to the collection.
This isn't ground-breaking tech, of course, and IKEA aren't first to the market with their connected blinds, but, as with all IKEA products, these smart blinds are well-designed and really good value at a fraction of the cost of most competitors. Compatible with both Amazon's Alexa and the Google Home Assistant, IKEA say they'll be available in-store and online from early next month; February 2019.
KADRILJ blind starts at £90
FYRTUR blind starts at £110
The perfect blinds for the blind
I've written in previous articles about the power of the connected home (check out 'Lightbulb moment? How smarter homes, Alexa and the age of automation will help disabled people') and how such setups can assist with everything from the casual voice command to check the weather or play your favourite media, to controlling your entire environment and contacting friends or even emergency services when all you have is your voice.
In light of such potentially empowering solutions, smartblinds and lightbulbs might seem a little less life-changing - but believe me, as a blind person myself, the ability to have lights automatically come on at dusk and go off at a pre-set time (or when you say "Goodnight" to Alexa, say) and to know that your windows will be well-masked by blinds that have similar smarts, is practically priceless from both a social and decency point of view.
Simply set up your lights and blinds to know about sunset and your bedtime and you can avoid extensive embarrassment - whether it's keeping your dog in the dark, inviting friends into a pitch-black house or inadvertently offering all sorts of night time novelties to neighbours.
There's even a strong security angle here too. If you neglect to put lights on on dark evenings, then you may be giving potential burglars the impression that no one's home and effectively inviting them in. Confronting a burglar isn't ideal at the best of times - and even less so if you surprise each other in the dark.