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Safe & Sound

 
 

Our goal is to create a system that connects home appliances to pinpoint instances of concern when an elderly citizen is living independently. We are working on designing a customizable system that sends helpful reminders such as locking the door, or taking their daily medicine. In emergency situations, like when an elder has left the stove on for too long, the system can notify emergency services and loved ones. The goal is to allow loved ones to have a peace of mind that their elders are safe at home while the elderly can feel independent and safe. 

For this project I am working with  fellow HCI students Alex Chisolm and Avanti Dabholkar. We are using various Human-Computer Interaction research methods throughout the process to create a mobile service that satisfies an existing need in the market. Methods include PEST Diagramming, Value Proposition Flow Models, Competitive Analysis, Speed Dating storyboards, and more. We are also conducting on-site interviews with elders at retirement homes and assistive living communities as well as surveying caretakers to understand the needs on both sides of spectrum. 

 
 

Before settling on the concept of creating a Home Automation system for the elderly, we conducted a PEST Diagramming session to discover what potential market places are out there today. PEST stands for (Political, Economic, Social and Technology). We generated a relevant topics under each category which led us ten different ideas to pursue. Based on these ten, we did competitive analysis and finally fell upon the idea of creating a service for the elderly.

 
 
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                  Political

- A growing elderly demographic

- Increasing demand in healthcare in support of an aging population

 

 

               Economic

- The U.S. eldercare market is estimated worth about $447.4 billion, with a compound annual growth rate of 7.1%. (2014)

Social

- Lower birth rates and longer life expectancy

By 2030, there will be about 72.1 million older persons, more than twice their number in 2000 (US)

 

                          Technology

- Internet of things movement

- Rise in ubiquitous computing

- Investments in smart homes

 

How this works is that at ones home, various home appliances will be connected to the safe & sound system. The connection of the devices will require either a initial installation process or the self installment of smart outlets to plug various devices into. Once connected , appliances will be able to inform the system as to whether the device is on or off. Depending on the type of appliance and for how long it is turned on, the system that can determine whether of not a reminder to the elderly or a call to a loved one might be necessary. The algorithmic potential here is interesting because the combination of on/off states of the appliances can lead to insights into the elderly's well being without collecting individual data.

 
 

We created a value proposition flow model for our potential service. By looking at all our stakeholders, we found the opportunities in which this service can generate revenue. Additionally, we discovered that healthcare services such as an at-home nurses or assistive living facilities can be extremely expensive costing as high as $11,500 per week (according to one survey answer). This demonstrates that there is potential to reduce costs of current elders that are living with assistance. 

 

We are working toward refining and continuing our research and development. We have expanded our team to include Andrea Fineman, Jessica Fung and Jake Kushner. Currently, we are in the process of surveying caretakers as well as interviewing elderly citizens. We have also begun the process of storyboarding scenarios so that we can use them for Speed Dating, an HCI research method to develop a clearer understanding of the needs and desires of our users.