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Forget cameras, microphones, and wearable devices. There’s a better way to monitor the well-being of loved ones who might need assistance. Instead of intruding on their privacy, their houses can check that they’re all right using passive sensors.
Inspired by a number of energy monitoring projects, including one to reduce energy poverty for residents in social housing, Current Cost, a manufacturer of real-time displays for monitoring domestic electricity usage, has taken a new direction and developed a connected-home offering.
Current Cost realized that its energy monitoring product family could be enhanced with additional sensors to provide CurrentCare, a solution for ambient assisted living.
CurrentCare is a spinoff company that, with IBM as its technology partner, passively monitors elderly and vulnerable people in their homes. With sensors, CurrentCare’s telecare solution alerts caregivers and family members when something out of the ordinary is happening.
What appliances can tell you
For example, consider someone who has an electric kettle and makes a cup of tea first thing in the morning. If the kettle is being monitored, it’s obvious, when it goes from zero watts to 3,000 watts in the morning, that someone’s heating water for their tea.
It is also obvious when something hasn’t happened by a certain time. In many cases, it would be extremely unusual, and maybe something is very wrong, if a habitual morning tea drinker hasn’t had at least one cup of tea by 10 in the morning.
The CurrentCare solution uses low-cost sensors on key appliances, door open/close sensors, temperature and carbon monoxide monitors, room-level motion detectors, pressure mats in or near the bed, and a toilet flush sensor.
The sensors are easy to install and can be individually configured in a person’s home for their specific needs. Data is sent from the home over broadband (a GSM option will also be available soon) to a cloud-based analytical system, hosted by IBM.
Users can configure alerting rules, customizing them to the individual, to determine what to do if something unusual happens.
How the system works
CurrentCare’s data analysis service is hosted in an IBM cloud data center, and makes use of the secure, scalable and reliable IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity platform, which receives data sent from the CurrentCare equipment in patients’ homes. The data is then processed by an application running in the IBM Bluemix application platform.
Here, the triggering rules for the sensors from each house are applied, determining what alerts are to be sent to which appropriate party:
- If the front door opens between midnight and 4 a.m.
- Call me
- Send the friendly neighbor a text
- If the toilet hasn’t flushed by 10 a.m.
- If the room temperature drops below 68 degrees
- If the refrigerator fails
The CurrentCare portal dashboard works with any browser, including tablets and smartphones. This means caregivers can access data and activity charts wherever they are.
CurrentCare minds the house
At the heart of it all, the CurrentCare system is a home monitoring system. This means it can also help homeowners while they’re away, alerting them to factors such as whether anyone has entered the yard or opened the door. They’ll know if their pet sitter has come and whether the mail carrier delivered the package they were expecting. They can also be alerted to unusual activity. It’s a great way to keep an eye on things.
For more about the CurrentCare system and the way it works, visit CurrentCare.
To learn more about this topic, read this post on the IBM Internet of Things blog.