With 2.7 million of EU funding, the European Commission announced, on 6 January, a joint research project between several European institutes aimed at equipping the elderly, sick and disabled with universal remote consoles, thus giving them easier control over electrical appliances in their homes. This is a means of achieving its Digital Agenda, intended to boost the European technology sector over a five-year period, but also of supporting the increased independence of the elderly and the disabled and, in so doing, reducing the deficits of social security schemes.

Led by researchers in the Czech Republic, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, the I2HOME solution proposes a consistent, personalised and simplified remote 'interface'. The technology is based on open standards. This interface may be used in remote controls, mobile phones or even computers. For example, it can programme washing machines, lights, heating, air conditioning, televisions and DVD players. The technology can also be applied outside the home.

Easily changing TV channels

Behind this project and the EU funding, there is an obvious commercial explanation: sales of televisions, DVD players and other appliances are continuing to increase, but "the interfaces that make it possible to control them increasingly appear to have been conceived for experts in new technologies," notes the Commission. Hence the problems encountered by those who are less familiar with digital innovations...

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