Thermostat Talks To The Blind

March 25, 2003
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PIPERSVILLE, Pa. — Systems Controls & Instruments LLC, manufacturer of the “Commstat” thermostat, which is designed to change its settings and send alarm messages to contractors and end users via telephone, announced that the product has a new cousin: a thermostat with built-in speakers to help end users with visual impairments, including blindness.

Ricardo Roitman, vice president of Marketing & Export for SCI, said he recently listened to a prototype of this new model. “The speaker is really wonderful,” he said.

At the touch of a button, the thermostat can give the room temperature and describe which mode buttons the customer has pressed; for instance, the thermostat would announce, “Now you have asked for the heating mode.”

Roitman said the company is starting to approach organizations around the world that represent the disabled. The product also is appropriate for older adults with vision problems, such as cataracts, or for the technically challenged; “They don’t understand what the thermostat is doing, they never understood what the thermostat was doing,” said Roitman. This thermostat can tell them what it’s doing.

The installation is normal, he said, and can be used for retrofits.

Offshoot Product

The idea for this latest model, the Model CEV-24, was sprouted three or four years ago, Roitman said. It was a natural offshoot of the original Commstat. “We saw it as a marketing niche.”

It has the potential to help visually impaired people maintain a feeling of control over their environment. For example, one customer has already offered this feedback: “My wife is totally blind and has for years complained about accessibility to items such as thermostats. She could advance it [their previous thermostat] to the next cycle or raise/lower the temperature 1 degree per press of the manual raise/lower button … but she would never know for sure what she did.”

With the new thermostat, “She can now do anything she wants from anywhere in the house and feel confident she will get what she wants. I offered to set the temperature on my way out the door as I left for work this morning. ‘Nope’ she said, ‘I’ll do it.’”

The original Commstat, the CEM-24, can have changes called in over the phone. “You can connect it to a telephone line, the way you would connect an answering machine or modem,” Roitman said. “If you have a second home somewhere, and you left and you forgot to turn off the air conditioning, for example, you can call in and do it through the thermostat.”

All three versions of the thermostat, the CEM-24, CEO-24, and CEV-24, have different outputs available for different applications, such as heat pump, cooling only, electric heat, hydronic heat, etc., Roitman said.

For a free demonstration of the nonprogrammable Commstat, call 800-606-7264 (enter password 1234 when prompted); for the programmable thermostat, call 888-588-7113 (enter password 1234# when prompted, then * 0 # for menu). For more information, visit www.scillc.com or call 215-766-1487.

Publication date: 03/31/2003

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