ProxyCare Monitoring System (2014)

This project is commissioned non-commerical ('pet project') work. The objective is to monitor an old lady, who suffers from cognitive impairment and should not leave her bed, because of a complicated hip fracture.

The problem is that the lady must not put weight on her leg, however, she cannot remember this cruical medical advice. At the hospital/nursery home they have sensor doormats in front of the bed that can detect full-body weight, but this is already too late.

Thus, the goal of this project is to create a sensor that already detects the attempt of leaving the bed. This is accomplished by a simple distance sensor, which triggers an alarm whenever a body crosses its covering area. An additional challenge is provided by the requirement that the hospital's equipment must not be mechanically altered.

Therefore, an actuator module is created, which can trigger the patient's emergency button by means of a motor (some sort of 'mechanical finger', so to speak). Consequently, the nurses can be alerted via the in-house alarm system, and the hospital hardware doesn't have to be hacked invasively.

The system is comprised of different modules that can be connected with wires and with radio modems. Most of the modules and functions are optionally. To date, two different sensor nodes with different ranges have been created. The demo videos below illustrate how the system works, that is, how an object in front of the sensor triggers the actuator. Also, an optional and customizable voice message can be played in critical situations. This feature is used at the deployed system for playing a calming audio recording of a close relative to the old lady when the alarm is triggered.

The monitoring system consists of:

  • Main module including audio generator and user interface for setting the alarm (a number of different alarm options are available)
  • Sensor modules that wirelessly connect to the main module
  • Optional camera that takes pictures on alarm. This camera was created primarily for debugging purposes (to detect possible false alarms by hindsight)
  • Actuator module (mechanical finger, which presses the hospital's emergency button). Its design is quite funny, as the emergency button is  hard to be reliably triggered by a motor due to the shape of the button
  • Optional speaker for playing customized messages (the video contains an audio dummy message only)

Related Links and Images

  • Güldenpfennig, F., Nunes, F., and Fitzpatrick, G. ProxyCare: Integrating Informal Care into Formal Settings. Paper presented at Pervasive Health 2015, Istanbul. PDF.


Related Images