Technology for Independent Living

Environmental control systems that assist people with physical disabilities to control devices in their homes and on the go.

We provide Environmental Control Systems (ECS) that assist people with high level physical disabilities to control devices in their homes and on the go. Some of these devices include:

  • TV (audio/video) Control
  • Smartphone/Tablet Access
  • Landline Phone Control
  • Lamp/Fan Control
  • Attendant Call Access
  • Door Openers

Meeting members needs is our specialty; we ask our members to let us know what they would like to control. Our technicians are happy to assist in creating a solution.

Through specially designed switches, that may be sensitive to touch or breath, our members have access to this equipment and greatly reduce the need for certain types of dependence.

Once your application has been approved, one of our technicians will work with you, and your care team, to set up the Environmental Control Systems in your home. Should your equipment ever need changing, updating, or servicing, one of our technicians will work with you to make your system work for you as soon as possible.

Services are delivered at no cost for most of our members; this includes assessment, installation, and repairs. Our services are funded by the Ministry of Health and our equipment is funded by donations and community grants. We acknowledge the financial assistance of the Province of British Columbia.

Not only do we work closely with our members, but we also work closely with GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, community health centres, and similar agencies throughout the province, to provide the best services available to our members.

We are especially proud of our Peer Support Group. They are a diverse group of members, using both programs provided by Technology For Living, the Technology For Independent Living Program, and the Provincial Respiratory Outreach Program. These are peers who know what it’s like to live with a ventilator, transition from an institution to the community, and live with a disability. For more info, please email us or call us toll-free at 1-866-326-1245.

We’re always looking for new ideas that afford more independence to our members. We work alongside our members to improve existing technology, often with their invaluable input during the whole production cycle. Are you a member, an engineer or an advocate with a brand new idea to share? You can find information how to contact us here and see how you can go from idea to product working with TIL.

How to apply

If you have difficulty, due to a physical disability, accessing any of the devices listed on this page, you may be a good candidate.  If you’d like to discuss your situation with one our technicians, before applying, please call us at (604) 326-0175.

We have a team of technicians that can help assess your environment/situation and let you know if our services would be of benefit to you. After your initial assessment, if it is decided that our program wouldn’t be a good fit for you, the technician that helped you may know of other services that would be a fit to you.

You can apply here, online. We accept applications from any individual, with severe physical disabilities, who needs help accessing their home environment.

Equipment we provide

We provide a variety of electronic devices to assist you in accessing your home environment. Here are some of the most commonly used devices.

Smart Home

Google Nest Mini

Control your TIL smart home devices (Nest Hello Doorbell, Chromecast, August Door Lock, TP Link/Wyze Lights, ECOBEE Thermostat, etc) using your voice.

Google Nest Hub

Control your TIL smart home devices using your voice or touch. The screen also give you the opportunity to see who is at the door before you open it, play YouTube videos, and get visual feedback as well as audio feedback.

Amazon Echo Dot

Control your TIL smart home devices (Ring Doorbell, Amazon Fire TV, August Door Lock, TP Link/Wyze Lights, ECOBEE Thermostat, etc) using your voice.

Amazon Echo Show 5

Control your TIL smart home devices using your voice or touch. The screen also give you the opportunity to see who is at the door before you open it, play YouTube videos, and get visual feedback as well as audio feedback.

Logitech Harmony Hub

Watch your favourite cable tv shows using your voice or touch and any voice assistant provided by TIL (Nest Mini, Nest Hub, Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Echo Show 5). The Harmony app also provides a remote control on your phone, which works great with iOS Switch Control and iOS Voice Control.

Google Chromecast

Watch your favourite streaming service (Netflix, YouTube, etc) using your voice, either through the Nest Mini or Nest Hub provided by TIL.

Amazon Fire Cube

Watch your favourite streaming service (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc) using your voice, either through the device itself, Amazon Echo Dot, or Amazon Echo Show 5 provided by TIL.

TP Link Kasa Light Switches

TIL provides TP Link light switches as they can be activated by voice (any TIL provided voice assistant) or touch (smart device, Nest Hub, Amazon Echo Show 5). These switches also come in Single Pole, Dimmer, or 3-way variations.

TP Link Kasa Mini Plug

This versatile smart plug is designed to allow you to use your other outlet when in use. It is great for controlling non-smart devices like lamps, fans, heaters, etc. using your voice (any TIL provided voice assistant) or touch (smart device, Nest Hub, Amazon Echo Show 5).

Wyze Smart Light Bulb

The Wyze smart light bulb may seem simple, but it allows dimmer and tunable functionality to a bulb that can be controlled using your voice (any TIL provided voice assistant) or touch (smart device or TIL provided voice assistant with display).

iHome Smart Plug

We use the iHome Smart Plug specifically with our members that want to control non-smart plug in devices (ie: lamp, fan, etc) using Apple’s Homekit environment.

Meross Smart Light Switch

We use the Meross Dimmable Light Switch specifically with our members that want overhead lighting control using Apple’s Homekit environment.

ECOBEE 3 Lite

This smart thermostat can control any “low voltage” heating/cooling system (ie: furnace) using voice (any TIL provided voice assistant) or touch (smart device or any TIL provided voice assistant with display).

MYSA Thermostat

The MYSA thermostat can control any “high voltage” heating systems (ie: baseboard heaters, in floor heating, etc) using voice (any TIL provided voice assistant) or touch (smart device or any TIL provided voice assistant with display).

August Smart Lock

Not only can you control this smart lock using your voice (any TIL provided voice assistant) or touch (smart device or any TIL provided voice assistant with display), but you can also check to see if your door is closed and locked from anywhere in the world.

Google Nest Hello Doorbell

The Nest Hello Doorbell is a very intuitive doorbell that connects to your existing doorbell wiring. Using your smart device or Nest Hub, you can see and hear who is at the front door. You can also have a conversation with them, or activate a pre-recorded message telling them you will be right there.

Ring Doorbell

The Ring Doorbell is very versatile…not only can it be connected to your existing doorbell wiring, but it can also run on rechargeable batteries. They also come in a few varieties including a doorbell that replaced a peephole! You can see who’s at the door using a smart device or the Amazon Echo Show 5 provided by TIL.

Soma Tilt

Soma Tilt is a device that is connected to the twist wand of your mini or venetian blinds. The Soma Tilt can be controlled using voice (any TIL provided voice assistant) or touch (smart device).

Soma Smart Shades

Soma Smart Shades are similar to the Soma Tilt, but allow for control of any blind utilizing an endless cord loop or beaded chain. The Soma Smart Shade can be controlled by voice (any TIL provided voice assistant) or touch (smart device).

Switchbot Curtain

The Switchbot Curtain allows for control of single or dual panel curtains. The Switchbot Curtain sits on the curtain rod and pushes the curtain open or closed, depending on your command using voice (any TIL provided voice assistant) or touch (smart device).

SmartThings Sensors

The use of SmartThings sensors allows automation of your TIL smart devices, using motion, temperature, vibration and window/door sensors.

Fingerbot

Fingerbot is a small robot that presses any non-smart button (coffee machine, light switch, etc) that can be activated by voice (any TIL provided voice assistant) or touch (smart device).

Switchbot

Switchbot is a small robot that uses a rotating arm to press any non-smart button (computer power, light switch, etc) that can be activated by voice (any TIL provided voice assistant) or touch (smart device).

Bond Bridge

Bond Bridge is a radio-frequency (RF) smart replicator that can learn your RF remotes (ie: ceiling fan, garage door, etc). Once learned, you can then control these RF devices using your voice (any TIL provided voice assistant) or touch (smart device).

Switches

Our members use a variety of switches to control their environment, including, but not limited to, TV, audio/video devices, attendant call systems, lights, fans, smartphones, etc. The appropriate switch is very much based on member preference, but also on the member’s ability and environment.

The ultralight switch (orange/left), for example, is very compact and very sensitive, which our members appreciate, but when used in certain environments can be accidentally activated by other factors (blankets, clothing, etc).

For our members that are not able to activate a pressure switch, the Sip n Puff Switch is a great alternative. The Sip n Puff switch allows the member to activate any of the devices listed below using a slight sip and/or puff on a clear tube.

Sip n Puff switches are built by team members of the Technology of Independent Living (TIL) program, on site, using 3D printing, sensitive pressure transducers, and various other supplies.

To better access the Sip n Puff switch, our technicians will mount the clear tube in a position that is easy to use for the member, whether on a wheelchair or at bedside.

Environmental Control

The Gewa Control Prog is a programmable infra-red remote control, that allows for switch control. It allows our members, using 1 or 2 switches, to use the Gewa to control their TV, audio/video equipment, phone, attendant call, lights, fans, etc.

Our technicians can mount the Gewa and switch(s), on the members bed or wheelchair, to allow for effective member access.

Similar to the Gewa Control Prog, the Mini Relax is also a programmable infra-red remote control that allows switch control. The big difference between the two devices is that the Mini Relax is a much simpler device to operate, as it only allows for 6 functions, as opposed to the 241 functions available on the Gewa remote.

The mini relax is a great device for TIL members that prefer or require a more simple setup, with only a few functions.

The Chameleon is a device, collaboratively developed by TIL and BCIT Biomedical Engineering Technology students, that allows TIL members with limited voice ability to operate 30 Google Nest Mini functions using a single switch. Using an ability switch, the TIL member selects a function (ie: Rock Music), then the Chameleon says a preprogrammed message to Google Nest Mini (ie: Hey Google, play some rock music.). The Chameleon is fully programmable, including google commands, scanning speed, volume and brightness.

TIL’s Bed Control was developed by TIL after realizing there was a need for members to independently control their bed. Depending on our members bed make and model, their bed functions could be controlled by voice, their smart device, or using a single switch to scan the bed functions.
*TIL’s Bed Controls are not available for use on all beds, but TIL technologists can do a quick assessment to see if it will work for our members.

TIL’s Attendant Call is a wireless device that, when activate by an ability switch, rings a chime or song in another part of the home.

*TIL’s Attendant Call is mean to increase independence within the home, but should not be used as an emergency callbell!  For emergency call needs, TIL members should contact a company that provides emergency call services.

Speakerphones

The Serene RCx Speakerphone is a remote controlled speakerphone that allows for storage of up to 32 pre-programmed phone numbers.

To make a call, simply press the pendant remote, or the TIL switch plugged into it, and the phone will start scanning through the pre-programmed numbers. Once the number you want to call is highlighted, activate the pendant again and the number will be dialed.

The GewaTel 200 Speakerphone is an infrared controlled speakerphone. By using infrared transmitters, like the Gewa Control Prog (above), members of our Technology for Independent Program (TIL) can make and receive phone calls…using the same remote they use to access their environment (TV, lights, etc).

Smartphone and Tablet Control

Tapio is an iOS switch interface device. Using the Tapio, and 1 or 2 of our switches, members gain full access to an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, using Apple’s Switch Control.

Our technicians can also mount your iOS device, making it easier to use with the Tapio, and switch, on a wheelchair or at bedside.

Technicians of our Technology for Independence Program (TIL) have been adapting Bluetooth headsets for more than 7 years. As a matter of fact since the Motorola Razr was the most recommended phone on the market, and there weren’t “smartphones”. We adapt the headset, so that any of our switches can be used to activate a smartphone.

Using an adapted Bluetooth headset may not allow full control of a smartphone, but it does allow the ability to make and receive calls. And, depending on the phone, you may be able to do much more, like use Siri or other voice control functions.

tecla-e is an assistive device that allows some TIL members the ability to control multiple smart devices, along with mainstream smart technology (lights, tv, thermostat, etc), using ability switches. TIL does provide the tecla-e in some cases, depending on what the TIL member would like to operate in their home environment.

The Winners have been announced!

An event to showcase 5 shortlisted projects was held virtually on May 8th.

The YES PROJECT is built on the idea to offer our members more individualized, one-off assistive solutions. In order to accomplish that we have hired contract technicians who are working on setting up home automation for our members. That will free up TIL biomeds to focus on special projects. This also includes having access to the right tools to complete these projects and one stop in this direction was the recently purchased the Ultimaker S3 3D printer.

We Talk Tech

Join Technology for Living’s Ean Price (Innovation Strategist) and Wayne Pogue (Team Lead, Biomedical Engineering) on the first Thursday of every month as they discuss technology used by the members of the Technology for Independent Living and the Provincial Respiratory Outreach programs. Ean and Wayne will also be introducing you to staff and members of TFL along the way.

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