Home Automation System for People with Visual and Motor Disabilities
in Colombia
William Coral
1 a
, Alvaro Alarcon
2 b
, Jose Llanos
2 c
and Jose Hernandez
1 d
Department of Mechatronics Engineering, Corporaci
on Universitaria del Huila - CORHUILA, Neiva, Colombia
Department of Computer Science, Corporaci
on Universitaria del Huila - CORHUILA, Neiva, Colombia
Home Automation, Visual Disabilities, Motor Disabilities, Wi-Fi, Arduino.
In this paper we present the development of a home automation system based on a Smartphone with touch to
speech feedback. The purpose was to solving problems of accessibility and comfort inside homes for people
with visual disabilities. The technological design was based on the development of a web server using an
Arduino Uno and a Wi-Fi Shield. The router connects the smartphone to the web server. Then a router
connects a smartphone to the server to receive information about the home location and send control signals
for power up the household appliances. The tests were performed on people with visual disabilities and people
with motor disabilities.
People with disabilities presents many problems of in-
clusion in our country Colombia. For example, those
who have visual impairments have difficulties of ori-
entation and mobility inside buildings (Lancioni et al.,
2010), (Mirza et al., 2012). This situation may be
eventually affecting the daily activities of these per-
sons inside homes and buildings: opening doors, an-
swering the telephone and power up the household ap-
pliances (Aburukba et al., 2016), (Mirza et al., 2012).
In this way it is necessary the intervention and help of
caregivers affecting the independence of this people.
In recent years a series of automated devices and
systems have been developed with the purpose of
solving this problem avoiding the need of caregivers
(Ahmed et al., 2016), (Mirza et al., 2012). These de-
vices made part of a system called Domotic. These
are responsible for controlling the operation of de-
vices in a home, in order to reduce human interven-
tion (Faroom et al., 2018).
One of these previous works provides help to peo-
ple for the remote control of household appliances
through a power interface arranged inside a box that
has several power AC sockets (Aburukba et al., 2016).
In this case the patient activates the devices through a
software and an entry button. The system is controlled
by an Arduino powered by relays and Bluetooth trans-
mission. The use of these technology is an advantage
due to its fast deployment and low costs.
The Domestic Area Networks (HAN) have also
been used to facilitate the supervision and control of
electronic devices remotely (Aburukba et al., 2016).
They are implemented through a system with XBEE
wireless modules (based on IEEE 802.15.4) con-
nected to a Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) with the
purpose of obtaining a scalable and low-cost topol-
In South America devices have also been devel-
oped with the aim of providing health services and
increasing the level of independence of the mentioned
population (Freitas et al., 2015). The solutions devel-
oped are based on the use of technologies with low
complexity and price. These solutions frequently use
a small single-board computer like Raspberry Pi, mo-
tion sensor and wireless network (Wi-Fi) to configure
and monitoring settings through a smartphone. In this
way we facilitate interaction with the system when
moving inside the home.
Systems have also been developed based on the
recognition of hand gestures and voice commands
with the purpose of providing self-dependence and
comfort (Iqbal et al., 2016). This kind of solutions
consists of a Kinect module, a control PC and X10
modules to control the appliances wirelessly.
Coral, W., Alarcon, A., Llanos, J. and Hernandez, J.
Home Automation System for People with Visual and Motor Disabilities in Colombia.
DOI: 10.5220/0007929303330340
In Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics (ICINCO 2019), pages 333-340
ISBN: 978-989-758-380-3
2019 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
In this paper we present a Domotic system con-
trolled by mobile devices developed in Colombia.
The purpose is solving comfort, accessibility and in-
door location problems of people with visual and mo-
tor disabilities inside a building.
This work will be presented as follows, in section
II System Overview, we give a general view of the
system. Then in section III Hardware, we present the
infrastructure of the prototype that are complemented
with the system description in the section IV Soft-
ware. Ends with the experiments and results in the
section Results and the conclusion.
Smart Home Automation (SMA) systems combine
electronics, communications and data processing de-
vices and end-user applications for household appli-
ance management and indoor location systems. Cur-
rently these systems are based on wireless communi-
cation standards for the establishment of a common
network of home devices (Konings et al., 2016).
The SMA can also integrate internal positioning
systems (IPS) that use radio frequency signals, mag-
netic fields and acoustic signals. These signals are
collected by a mobile device with the purpose of get-
ting people location (Els et al., 2016). A special ap-
plication is the use of these systems for solving the
problems of interior location for people with disabili-
ties (Mirza et al., 2012).
2.1 Technologies used in IPS
One of the most common indoor positioning tech-
niques is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tech-
nology (Li et al., 2015), (De Cillis et al., 2017). This
is due to its low cost of installation and maintenance
because most of the RFID systems do not require ca-
bling infrastructure. However, radio frequency sig-
nals from RFID systems could easily be blocked by
external devices tuned to the same frequency. On
the other hand, for indoor location purposes a smart
phone could not be used as a location device and an
additional RFID card would be required. In this way
if we want to use the smart phone to help people with
visually impaired it would be necessary to use addi-
tional routing and conversion devices to send RFID
over the wireless Ethernet standard IEEE 802.11 (Wi-
ZigBee technology operating under the IEEE
802.15.4 standard is also used for IPS applications
due to its cost efficiency, low power consumption,
low processing capacity and transmission speed of
250Kbps (Konings et al., 2016), (Bianchi et al.,
2018). However, for RFID it would not be possible
to use smart phones as devices for the interior loca-
tion of people with visual disabilities, because these
devices could not connect to the ZigBee network.
Through Wi-Fi transmission technology it is also
possible to detect the presence of a person inside a
building. By using the smart phone as a location de-
vice, we can triangulate the position according to the
signal strength received from different access points
(AP) (Curran et al., 2011). This type of technol-
ogy makes it easier the use of mobile devices be-
cause these devices have connection interface for this
type of networks. Because of this it is not necessary
to install devices to adapt other technologies to (Wi-
Fi). This feature helps the implementation of this type
of systems due to the massive use of mobile devices
by people including those with visual disabilities and
WLAN IEEE 802.11 networks inside the home.
2.2 Indoor Positioning Techniques using
Wireless location systems (WPS) based on the use of
wireless local area networks (WLAN) have some ad-
vantages over other types of positioning systems due
to most of the buildings and homes have available a
WLAN infrastructure (Wen et al., 2011). Below we
review various techniques that can find the estimated
position of a person using WLAN and mobile devices.
Arrival time (ToA) and arrival time difference
(TDoA), calculate the distance between the client de-
vice and the wireless access point (AP) based on mea-
surements of time and signal speed between these
points, the exact position is found by means of tri-
angulation of signals (Yassin and Rachid, 2015). This
type of technique requires a synchronization of equip-
ment, a very stable connection and an algorithm for
estimating the location of the individual, which would
require a real-time location system server (RTSL) in-
creasing the complexity and costs of the system. This
makes it inappropriate for the development of the
work described here because people with disabilities
in Colombia generally have a very few economic re-
sources requiring low-cost solutions.
The Arrival Angle (AoA) technique uses direc-
tional antennas to measure the arrival angle of sig-
nals transmitted by customers and the position is esti-
mated through the geometry of the triangles by mea-
suring the angles between the target and the reference
nodes. An algorithm is required to calculate the esti-
mated position with the data of the mentioned angles.
The implementation would need a server in charge of
this process increasing the costs and complexity of the
ICINCO 2019 - 16th International Conference on Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics
The received signal strength indication (RSSI) and
the ”fingerprint” method are based on propagation
models and associate the power levels of the cus-
tomer’s signal with the distance between the customer
and the AP access point (Yassin and Rachid, 2015).
The strength of the client signal is measured from sev-
eral access points and a propagation model is estab-
lished based on this information to determine the po-
sition. There are two variants: one based on a map of
RSSI vectors and another based on the calculation of
signal loss by propagation. Therefore, an algorithm
and a server are required to process the information
and establish the propagation model, which would
make the implementation of the technique more com-
plex and expensive.
In the cell ID technique mobile devices are re-
sponsible for estimating which of the radio beacons is
the nearest. This is done by scanning the radio prop-
agation models or fingerprints to discover the near-
est access point through its ID or MAC and therefore
the position of the device in the network (Yassin and
Rachid, 2015). It compares the received signals with
those recorded in a database. Therefore, a server is re-
quired to register the data in a database. Table 1 shows
a brief comparison between the techniques used.
In Colombia some works has been carried out
to simulate interior positioning systems in order to
compare the performance of a non-cooperative TDoA
/ DoA hybrid radio-location approach with a non-
hybrid approach (Sanchez et al., 2018). This work
corresponds to a simulation. Therefore, the system is
not implemented and the hardware to be used is not
set-up. Another work contemplates the design and
implementation of a system for micro-localization by
means of Wi-Fi wireless networks and low-power
Bluetooth (BLE) technologies. The location of clients
is based on a location algorithm performed with ma-
chine learning (ML) derived from the Signal-to-Noise
Ratio (SNR) footprint method and the Received Sig-
nal Strength (RSS) (Ter
an et al., 2018).
In previous works, prediction models were used
and localization algorithms were developed. This de-
manded the use of complex simulation scenarios for
the first case and cloud servers in the second. The
could increase the development costs of the men-
tioned projects. In this way the aim of the present
work consists in developing a low-cost Domotic sys-
tem for indoor location bringing conform for people
with disabilities. For this, the mobile device was used
as location equipment inside buildings as it is a device
commonly used by people today. In addition, hard-
ware such as an Arduino, a Router and a low-priced
power board that easily available in the local market
of small cities in Colombia were used.
In this way a Domotic system was developed that
used a variant of the cell identification technique.
This is focused on the detection of the nearest access
point. As well, based on the comparison of the trans-
mission power level of the nearby access points (AP),
in that way the device established a connection with
the one that provided a higher power level. Estab-
lishing a connection with it and with the local server
configured in the Arduino.
The system consists of two local area networks (LAN)
composed of a wireless router, an Arduino connected
via shield (Wi-Fi) and the smartphone of the disabled
person. Each LAN is an independent physical net-
work operating in a specific area of the house and has
its own IP block.
The Arduino was programmed as a web server for
mobile devices. In this way we can know the posi-
tion inside the house (IPS) of the disabled person and
the location could be set according to the network to
which the mobile was connected. The person received
this information through a mobile application which
in turn allowed the control of turning on and off ap-
pliances. A portable AC power interface was imple-
mented, which connected to the home network and
delivered the controlled AC signal to the appliances.
The general scheme is shown in the figure 1.
4.1 Hardware
The system was based on two LANs the first have a
stationary node composed of a wireless Router, an Ar-
duino with a shield (Wi-Fi), a power card with relays
to control AC connection to supply household appli-
ances. This node was located in a room and worked
in standby mode in order to detect the presence of the
mobile node (smart phone of the disabled person) and
establish a Wi-Fi connection with it.
The objective was to develop an indoor position-
ing system (IPS) through Wi-Fi location. The second
LAN works in the room and is composed by a station-
ary node and a mobile node with the same character-
istics as those mentioned above.
At the stationary node an Arduino Uno was con-
figured as a server. This has the function of send-
Home Automation System for People with Visual and Motor Disabilities in Colombia
Table 1: IPS Comparison Table.
Category Technique Position calculation Characteristics Coverage
Time of arrival (ToA) Time Measurement of time and speed Synchronization between devices Indoor
Time of arrival difference (TDoA) Time Measurement of time and speed Synchronization between devices Indoor
Arrival angle (AoA) Angle Geometry of triangles Requires special antennas Indoor
Empirical Model Received signal strength (RSSI) Power levels No special hardware needed for (MS) Indoor
Fingerprint Received signal strength (RSSI) Power levels No special hardware needed for (MS) Indoor
Figure 1: Block diagram of the domotic system - This figure
shows the block diagram of the domotic system for people
with disabilities. The smart phone can receive indoor lo-
cation information from the Arduino located in each house
area. It can also send on/off control signals to the household
ing messages wirelessly through the Wi-Fi extension
board (shield Wi-Fi model R3) connected by SPI bus.
This was responsible for processing and transmission
of indoor location information and control on / off ap-
pliances. For the development of the domotic system
the decision was made to use routers and create Wi-
Fi subnets. Because of low cost equipment needed
to implement this topology and the facility to find
them in the local market. This guaranteed the viabil-
ity of implementing the system in the homes of peo-
ple with disabilities. To prevent the network overlap-
ping problems, the Router’s power transmission was
reduced to minimum level. Also, no proximity detec-
tors are used because the user only uses mobile equip-
ment and it would be necessary to use additional hard-
ware. The wireless router Tp-link TL-WR841ND acts
as access point and interconnection between station-
ary node and mobile node for each of the LANs men-
tioned. The connection to the LAN was made through
the Ethernet wireless standard IEEE 802.11b (Wi-Fi)
by the nearest neighbor method based on the strength
of transmission power.
The power module with 4 relay-controlled outputs
was connected to the Arduino to receive the control
signals transmitted from the mobile node. The pur-
pose is to switching the alternating current loads con-
nected to the electrical grid module (fan, television
and luminaires). The elements described above were
installed in a single module with the purpose of mak-
ing it portable, allowing the location of the same in
different areas of the house.
Shield Wi-Fi
Router Arduino
Shield 4
Figure 2: Hardware block diagram of the domotic system -
This figure shows the block diagram of the domotic system
hardware for people with disabilities. The Wi-Fi shield al-
lows the Arduino to be connected to the subnet of the smart-
phone in order to receive the ON/OFF control signals from
the appliances. The power card of 4 relay outputs is con-
nected to the home network to allow the passage of AC cur-
One of the advantages of the system is its easy
configuration and the low implementation costs. The
aim was to develop a tool that would improve the
comfort of people with disabilities who are usually
those with the lowest incomes rates in the case of
Colombia. Figure 3 shows the hardware node.
The mobile node was based on a smart phone
which had a mobile application developed for An-
droid operating system. This allows the person in a
situation of disability to receive spoken notifications
of their position inside the home, operate the buttons
to power devices and confirmation of the activation
and deactivation of appliances.
4.2 Software
For the development of the mobile application
an architectural pattern Model-View-ViewModel
ICINCO 2019 - 16th International Conference on Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics
Figure 3: Stationary node of a domotic system - In this
image you can see the stationary node of the domotic sys-
tem. It includes an Arduino connected to the Wi-Fi Shield,
a router for the wireless connection to the subnet, a power
card with 4 relays and a socket for the connection of house-
hold appliances.
(MVVM) was used. The layer view provides the
graphical interface with the purpose of capturing the
required requests and displaying the answers to the
end user. Through this the visually impaired person
received voice notifications about their position inside
the house also controlled the switching on and off of
appliances. Figure 4 shows the MVVM architectural
The model layer encapsulates the application logic
and manages the wireless connection via Wi-Fi (IEEE
802.11) between the mobile device and the Arduino.
It stores the data provided by the view, sends it to
the Arduino for processing and returns the responses
from the Arduino to the view model layer. It allowed
the sending of data through objects of entities that rep-
resent actions executed or required by the persons.
Developed through the Arduino IDE and JAVA
programming language, with the purpose of establish-
ing the configuration method (Setup), inputs and out-
puts and establishing connection to the Wi-Fi network
through the IP address and logical port. It allowed
the storage of the network identifier (SSID) and pass-
word. To assign Wi-Fi channels, existing networks
were scanned and the least used networks were se-
At the first instance the view layer sends an ob-
ject with the requirements of the disabled person to
the logical view model layer. This took the object
and transforms it to send the information to the model
layer in charge of executing the user’s request and
responding to the view model layer confirming the
execution of the request. This response was sent to
the view layer so that the disabled person could re-
ceive a confirmation by voice or text. An image of
the MVVM app and block diagram is shown below.
Figure 5 shows the frontend of the App.
Figure 4: MVVM Block Diagram - In this image you can
see the APP installed in the smart phone of the person in
a situation of availability. This APP allows the user to re-
ceive confirmations about the interior location. It could also
send on/off signals for the activation of household appli-
ances. The user could recognize the graphical interface of
the application using Google’s APP Talkback.
The tests of the domotic system were performed by
11 visually impaired people, these developed inside
the homes of people living in the city of Neiva. In
each of the tests 3 routes were performed: route be-
tween a room and the living room, between room and
kitchen, route between rooms. A total of 33 tests were
performed with the purpose of tracking the change of
internal position of the visually impaired person.
The tests involved the route of these individuals
between two rooms of the house (points A and B).
In each of these rooms had previously installed a sta-
tionary node: wireless router Tp-link TL-WR841ND,
an Arduino UNO, a power interface connected to a
Home Automation System for People with Visual and Motor Disabilities in Colombia
View - App
View Model -
Request Request
Response Response
Graphical Interface
Logic Process and Communication
Setup and Communication
Figure 5: App graphical interface - This diagram shows the
MVVM Model implemented in the development of soft-
ware of the domotic system for people with disabilities.
In the model layer the coding of the Arduino was imple-
mented, in the view layer the code of the graphical interface
of the APP was implemented and in the model layer the
code necessary for the Wi-Fi connection processes of the
system was implemented.
power socket, to the latter were connected AC loads
(television, fan and light bulb). Each time a test was
carried out on a different route it was necessary to re-
locate and adjust the stationary nodes.
Therefore, each of these rooms (stationary node)
had a wireless subnet provided by the Router. Thus,
as the person moved between the rooms was con-
nected to the different Wi-Fi networks through a smart
phone (mobile node). As each room was approached,
the server configured in the Arduino sent position in-
formation to the mobile device. Which through the
APP generated warning and location voice messages
such as ”approaching the room” in order to guide the
visually impaired person inside the home.
When the person entered the room A or B he has
the control to power on or off the AC loads (TV,
fan and bulb) by using the buttons arranged in the
App. People with disabilities recognized the buttons
through touch thanks to Google’s Talkback applica-
tion. Each time a section of the graphical interface
is touched voice confirmations were generated about
the name and function of each one of them. Figure 6
shows the diagram with the room distribution inside
the house.
In addition, the App provided voice messages to
confirm the activation or deactivation of appliances.
When the person moved away from the room into
which they had entered, confirmation voice messages
were also generated such as: ”leaving the room”.
Once the tests of the domotic system were finished
we proceeded to make an analysis of the performance
of the same one. To evaluate the system, we had car-
ried out several test. In this first phase the aim was
to use a voice detection module to make it easier for
visually impaired people to send control signals for
switching household appliances on and off. Unfor-
Room B
Subnet B
Room A
Subnet A
Figure 6: Schematic drawing of the tests performed - The
test diagram shows the track made by the person in a situ-
ation of disability. The user moves from the room (A) and
once identified in the subnet (A) could perform the activa-
tion of household appliances. Afterwards he left the room
(A) and moved to the room (B) identifying himself in the
subnet (B) and having the possibility of turning on house-
hold appliances.
tunately, there were failures in the detection of voice
commands and therefore it was not possible to send
the control word to the stationary node.
Due to the problems with the detection of voice
commands we opted for use Google Talkback appli-
cation in order to facilitate the recognition of the in-
terface and use the App by people with visual dis-
abilities. In this way, the on/off control of household
appliances worked correctly.
There were also drawbacks of high processing
times and blocking of the interface when trying to es-
tablish connection to the network through the user in-
terface (foreground). In order to solve this problem
network connection methods were created that work
in the background achieving a partial reduction in pro-
cessing times for network access.
Likewise, there were problems with the wireless
signal strength levels of the routers because the sig-
nals overlapped between those located in different ar-
eas of the house. As a solution, the output power lev-
els of the aforementioned interconnection equipment
were decreased.
5.1 Usability of the System
To determine the usability of the system a test plan
was designed for people with visual and motor dis-
abilities. The individuals who would perform the tests
were selected and a basic questionnaire was proposed
to be applied to the participants. In this way, the
virtues and shortcomings of the system were deter-
ICINCO 2019 - 16th International Conference on Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics
mined in order to facilitate the movement inside the
buildings and the control of the power on and off of
electrical appliances for this type of population.
We performed 11 tests of approximately 2 hours
each. The experiment consisted of 3 routes between
different sectors of the house. Once the person was lo-
cated in one of these points, it was possible to control
the switching on and off of the electrical appliances.
18 tests, 54.5% of which were carried out on men and
15 (45.5%) on women. 21 tests (64%) were devel-
oped by people with visual disabilities and 12 (36%)
by individuals with motor disabilities. This last group
was included because in the execution of the project
it was established that the system could also be useful
for this type of population.
The operation of the domotic system (software
and hardware) was analyzed. 7 (64%) of the people
indicated that it worked correctly and 4 (36%) of the
people informed of small deficiencies in the localiza-
tion function. The process of user interaction with
the mobile application interface was also evaluated.
6 (55%) of the individuals did not present significant
usability problems and 5 (45%) of the individuals pre-
sented difficulties with the touch recognition. How-
ever, they indicated that with frequent use the results
could be improved.
The system proposed here uses a mobile applica-
tion that through the power level of the Wi-Fi signal
allows to establish connection with the subnet of a
specific area of the home and determine the interior
position of the people with disabilities. Therefore,
does not need the incorporation of special hardware
in the mobile node compared to other systems that
use ToA and AoA. This ensure that it is economical
to implement. Also, does not use advanced technique
of signal triangulation that allows it to be easy to im-
plement by anyone.
To evaluate the satisfaction rate of use of the home
automation system an interview was applied to people
with disabilities that participated in the system test-
ing. In the first place the usefulness of the home au-
tomation system for people with disabilities was ques-
tioned, with the purpose of asking people participat-
ing in the performance tests to express the possible
benefits of using the system. It was also asked about
the operation to know the effectiveness and possible
failures of the system with the purpose of performing
later adjustments. The use of the graphical interface
was also investigated, the objective was to find out the
possible operating problems to adjust it later. It was
also asked about the type of disability to establish if
the use of the system can be extended to another type
of disability other than visual.
Figure 7 summarizes the satisfaction survey ap-
plied to the volunteers who tested the system.
Figure 7: Survey Results.
For the development of the App it had to be con-
sidered that the disabled people who supported the
present work did not have skills for the management
of complex IT systems. Therefore, for the develop-
ment of the application, simple controls were chosen
by means of symbols, without using menus, dialogues
or alerts.
In addition, for the proper functioning of the home
automation system it was necessary for the App to
establish a constant interaction with the visually im-
paired person, since in this way the user could have
continuous information about their interior location
and the appliances turned on.
It was also necessary for people with disabilities
to have a period of adaptation to the application, in
order to potentiate its operation and avoid situations
of frustration due to possible failures of the system.
It is important to consider that the TP-LINK TL-
WR841ND routers generated a low wireless transmis-
sion power, since a high level could cause identifica-
tion errors of the subnet (area of the house) in the mo-
bile device due to the superposition of signals from
several routers, affecting the interior location of indi-
It is expected in the future to be able to integrate
the system to the home Wi-Fi network in order to
avoid the installation of additional wireless routers,
as a future option is considered to install Access Point
Layer 2 and segment the broadcast domains through
VLAN’s. The advantage of this future adaptation con-
sists in the fact that it is not necessary to install a dif-
ferent network to the domestic Wi-Fi, in such a way
that it is not necessary to incur additional expenses for
the development of the system.
One of the advantages of the domotic system pro-
posed here is the use of smart phones as mobile nodes,
because most people own one of these devices. There-
fore it is not necessary for people to have additional
devices for indoor location processes. It is only nec-
Home Automation System for People with Visual and Motor Disabilities in Colombia
essary to install the mobile application developed for
the systems.
The tests were performed with only two appli-
ances to test the functionality of the home automa-
tion system. However, it is expected to develop a sys-
tem that includes a greater number of households ap-
pliances to be controlled from the application, which
also should be reprogrammed.
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ICINCO 2019 - 16th International Conference on Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics