New Application Enables People who are Non-Verbal to Access Voice-Activated Smart Home Devices

Publication Type: 
Icon that shows two hands holding up a home.

August 11, 2021 – The IDEAL Group is pleased to announce the release of the Smart Home Helper (SHH). SHH is a free Android app (available on the Google Play Store) that enables individuals who are nonverbal and individuals with speech disorders such as stuttering, apraxia, and dysarthria to issue verbal commands to voice-activated smart home devices, using Android’s Text-to-Speech engine. SHH enables its users to issue smart home commands, in any one of 63 languages/dialects. Smart home voice commands can easily be created, organized, and shared with other users of the app. SHH development was funded by The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Inclusive Technologies’ (Wireless RERC).

About Voice-Controlled Smart Home Devices:
In the U.S., home-based, voice-controlled devices represent a rapidly growing market. Key players include Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, Samsung’s Bixby and the Google Assistant. According to and IDC:
  • Over 60 million people in the U.S. own 157 million smart speakers.

  • At least one voice-activated smart speaker is owned by 53 million Americans.

  • The number of smart homes worldwide is expected to be 451 million in 2025. 

  • Global smart home device shipments are expected to reach 1.4 billion in 2025.

Why SHH is important:

Given the benefits of voice-controlled smart home devices, those who lack the ability to speak, or who can speak clearly are not able to fully take advantage of these devices. The SHH was developed to level the playing field by enhancing the accessibility of these devices.

Nonverbal Statistics:
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 70 million people worldwide stutter (about 1% of the population). In the United States, this represents over 3 million people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Autism Speaks, an estimated 30,000,000 people with autism worldwide are nonverbal.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, dysarthria is a speech disorder that happens because of muscle weakness. Motor speech disorders like dysarthria result from damage to the nervous system. Researchers don’t know exactly how common dysarthria is. It is more common in people who have certain neurological conditions, such as:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): Up to 30% of people with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) have dysarthria.

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS): Around 25% to 50% of people with MS get dysarthria at some point.

  • Parkinson’s disease: Dysarthria affects 70% to 100% of people with Parkinson’s disease.

  • Stroke: About 8% to 60% of people with stroke have dysarthria.

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI): Some 10% to 65% of people with TBI have dysarthria.

Download Smart Home Helper from the Google Play Store

Smart Home Helper User Documentation


The Smart Home Helper (SHH) and supporting materials were developed by The IDEAL Group with funding from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Inclusive Technologies (Wireless RERC).

Date of Publication: 
Wednesday, August 11, 2021


The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90RE5025-01-00). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this website do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.