Google Assistant Gets ‘Help’ Command for ‘Smart Senior Living’

KNX home automation system with Google Assistant allows seniors and other residents to summon help by voice or automatically through IoT events; caregivers can respond remotely with realKNX system demonstrated at ISE 2018.

Google Assistant Gets ‘Help’ Command for ‘Smart Senior Living’

With the new KNX home-automation feature introduced by ProKNX at ISE 2018, seniors living independently can simply say, "OK, Google, Help" to summon assistance through Google Home or other Google Assistant device. Caregivers then can respond back through the google device with text-to-speech messages.

It seems like a simple task to enable Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to offer help to seniors who fall at home or otherwise need assistance – the modern-day answer to a PERS (personal emergency response system) that requires no panic button or pendant. But it’s just not that simple. Voice commands must be parsed and remote caregivers need a way to respond by voice. At ISE 2018, we saw a simple solution based on the realKNX home-automation system from ProKNX.

At the most basic level, a user can summon help by simply saying, “OK, Google … Help.” From there, the realKNX “Smart Senior Living” system notifies anyone on the user’s care-giver list of a help alert. Caregivers can then respond by voice or text, and those messages are instantly relayed via text-to-speech through the loved one’s Google Home devices.

To this basic command, integrators can add smart-home programming (configuration video below) that prompts the resident to respond to a request if, for example, a motion sensor in the bathroom does not sense activity in the night.

If the trigger events do not occur, Google Assistant will ask the resident if everything is OK, at which point the user must respond, “OK Google, I’m fine” or some variation thereof.

ProKNX is a relatively small French company with big innovations. At ISE, managing director Christian Kiefel said he was unaware of other implementations in which users could talk back remotely over Google Assistant with messages such as, “I’ll be there in 10 minutes.”

He himself marveled at all the potential in the senior-living market with “just a cheap product” like a $39 Google Home Mini.

Two years ago, ProKNX introduced us to augmented reality for home automation: Simply hold a smart phone up to a learned-in device such as a lamp, and the appropriate interface appears for controlling the system.

ProKNX specialized in smart-home systems based on the KNX, the popular home-automation standard in Europe. The company also supports Amazon Alexa and Siri voice control, but only the Google Assistant is robust enough to support ProKNX's two-way voice communications, according to Kiefel.


realKNX – Plug&Play Voice control with augmented reality and dashboard

Extends proServ with additional powerful functionalities:

  • Visual programming with Node-RED, no programming skills required.
  • Create powerful tasks: “if someone is in the garden and I’m away, play vicious dog on SONOS speakers”or “when I’m away, turn on the lights as if I was home.
  • Voice control through Siri to control KNX devices.
  • Voice control with Alexa  and Amazon Echo (Dot).
  • Voice control with Google Home.
  • Geo-fencing and automation.
  • Modern Dashboard with controls and graphical data presentation in browser.
  • Dashboard connection with remoteConnect from anywhere – no VPN, no port forwarding.
  • Augmented reality.
  • Data logging, scheduling, sonos driver, email alarm, VPN server and more.

Please note:

  • the realKNX delivery contains: realKNX embedded mini server and pre-installed software.
  • the accompanying realKNX iOS app is free on App Store.
  • this product requires additional hardware proServ.
  • voice control with Alexa requires additional hardware Amazon Echo/Echo Dot.
  • voice control with Google Home requires additional hardware.
  • this product is also available as part of realKNX Package at a reduced price.
  • no subscriptions fees, all services included in price.
  • realKNX is not a Apple HomeKit certified product.

About the Author

Julie Jacobson
Julie Jacobson:

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson


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