Embracing power of technology

The former Swanbourne High School teacher and his Bentech Assistive Technologies team work on their internet-based technologies at the Mosman Park Men’s Shed.

“We interviewed 30 to 40 wheelchair-bound people and some of the recurring things were they just want to get out of the front door, go for a coffee and meanwhile know who may be at the front door,” Mr Brown (72) said.

The team’s solution is a system that enables the user to utilise their mobile phone or tablet to see who is at their door, even if they are not at home.

Mr Brown, who volunteered at Mosman Park’s Rocky Bay for many years, said the team working on the East Fremantle public housing home had looked at many possible practical and mechanical solutions to make it liveable for a quadriplegic.

However, they found the internet and computers worked better for controlling lights, doors and entertainment devices as a whole system in a house.

The team is inspired by Mr Brown’s severely disabled late son Ben who died, aged 42, in 2009.

“He was a software engineer and when he couldn’t work anymore, he built a house in Shenton Park that was totally voice-activated,” Mr Brown said.

Using advances in technology in the past seven years, the team will work with Curtin University researchers to develop the integrated house in East Fremantle and create a living demonstration of the technology for the public.

However, a $640,000 grant for the work was withdrawn by the State Government about 18 months ago, and now the team has set up a crowd-funding drive for at least $30,000 to complete the East Fremantle project.

“Then we could perhaps find a commercial partner to market the technology, and with the licence fees we could continue the research,” Mr Brown said.