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October 2002

Off-the-shelf assistive technology solutions

By Greg Killeen,
Spinal Cord Injuries Australia.

Eon3 8-in-1 remote control, x10 appliance modul and transceiver.

Review of the Eon3 8-in-1 remote control

I have quadriplegia from a spinal injury that I acquired in 1977. Since the 1990s I have been using a couple of voice controlled Environmental Control Units (ECUs) plus other push button controllers to operate my home environment. I only use the voice controlled ECUs from my bed, as when I am in my wheelchair I can access most of my appliances. I also use computer software that enables me to create 'timers' to automate my home by turning the television off at night and turning the radio on in the morning. I also utilise it to turn lights on at night before I get home and to turn off the outside light in case it has been left on.

In Australia, there is a variety of assistive technology and environmental control units available for people with disabilities that can enhance a person's independence, self esteem and overall quality of life. These products vary greatly in functionality and price and some may be considered expensive and out of the reach of many people with disabilities who could really benefit from them. This is where the government equipment programs need to be expanded and properly funded to provide this much needed equipment. This is another subject on it's own!

However, as we all know, the simple infrared remote control has been a fantastic piece of technology that enables control of everything from televisions, video recorders and music systems to fans, air-conditioning and gas heaters etc. The problem now is you may have lots of remote controls. Well, there is a solution! The Eon3 8-in-1 remote control [under AU$80.00].

The Eon3 8-in-1 uses both infrared and radio frequency. It can control 6 infrared devices plus, used in conjunction with the X10 radio frequency transceiver [under AU$140.00], it can control lights and appliances from in and around any part of the home.

To program the remote to control your infrared appliances, you need to enter a 3 digit code into it (for your brand of appliance). A booklet provided with the remote lists the 3 digit codes for hundreds of brands of televisions, videos, CD players, cable TVs etc.

Each lamp or appliance to be controlled will need to be plugged into an X10 module [under AU$80.00]. To control any existing ceiling lights you will also need to replace your existing light switches with an X10 Light Switch Module [this requires an electrician]. Each module is given its own address code such as A1, A2, A3 etc. The radio frequency command to turn appliances 'on' or 'off' (as well as 'dim' and 'bright' for lights and lamps) is received by the transceiver module then travels along your home's existing internal electrical wiring to the correct X10 module. Then Presto!

The remote control can also control the CDs, DVDs and MP3 files on your computer. An optional extra infrared receiver cable [under AU$40.00] is required to connect to the computer.

Another great feature of this remote control is it has two Macro buttons that can be programmed to perform up to 14 functions in each. For example: you have your stereo playing and it is nearly 6.00pm and you want to watch the news and the sun is setting. Aim the remote control at the music system and television [if they are in the same vicinity] then press the macro button. It can turn off the music system, turn on the television and put it on your chosen news channel, turn on the lights and then turn on your electric jug for that well-earned cuppa.

Although the Eon3 8-in-1 remote control was not produced or designed for people with disabilities, I have found it to be a very usable and economical piece of assistive technology. I use this one remote control while I am in my wheelchair and it enables me to control my televisions, videos, pay TV, CD player, lights and appliances such as a radio and fan. Prior to this I was having to access six different infrared remote controls and a different controller for my lights and appliances.

For more information

The eon3 web site has information on the 8-in-1 Eon3 remote control and accessories, plus a whole variety of other home automation products. There is also a list of local Eon3 distributors.

Update August 2003: X10 products are now available in Australia from Dick Smith's Powerhouse, Dick Smith Electronics and Tandy Electronics.

Editor's note

The original (text) version of this article was authored using speech recognition software.

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