The 2015 Hackaday Prize is all about solutions to problems affecting a large number of people, and aging touches everyone. This week we were on the lookout for the entries best addressing the problem of Aging in Place. This means being able to live in your home and community independently and comfortably as one ages. It is as important to the aging as it is to their friends and family; a topic well worth your hacking skills and engineering brilliance.
Monitor Warning Signs
There were several entries that focused on monitoring for out-of-the-ordinary behavior. The Personal Medical Assistant seeks to leverage the sensor array and computing power of smartphones combined with ancillary data harvesting from things like an ECG chest band or a pulse oximeter watch. The idea is to watch for a series of precursors to health emergencies and warn both the person being monitored and their support network of family or caretakers.
The whimsically title Ye Oldie Monitor focuses on a similar idea with a more passive role. The concept suggests a base-station and a series of remote monitors throughout the living area, like PIR motion sensors, to alert for notable variations on a person’s normal day-to-day activities. In a similar vein the LiteHouse project would retrofit the household lighting fixtures with motion detectors. These automatically light each area to help prevent low-light accidents like falls, while also monitoring for signs of duress.
Solving the Communication Barrier
Watching out for each other is complicated by distance. We saw a few entries that try to alleviate that, like the Being There with Pi project. Smartphones and computers are a great way to communicate, until you need help making your smartphone or computer work in order to do so. This project looks at developing a dedicated video conferencing system based around the Rasperry Pi. The point is to develop an excruciatingly simple, robust form of live video communications.
Continuing on the note of simplified communications is Julia’s Speakerphone project. [Julia] is living with multiple sclerosis that has resulted in her being bed bound for almost a decade. Making phone calls has been both rare and leaves us wondering why this sort of solution isn’t already in wide adoption. The solution is a combination of a Bluetooth hands-free calling module,
Android tablet, Skype a pay-as-you-go cellphone, and an interesting button hack for [Julia] to activate the hand’s free. It is crafted with leaf switches and polymorph and worn as a bracelet. The proof of concept is there and we can’t wait to see this evolve into a more robust and extensible solution.
This Week’s Winners
Next Week’s Theme
We’ll announce next week’s theme a bit later today. Don’t let that stop you from entering any ideas this collection of entries may have inspired.