Helping Home

A non-intrusive way to monitor, improve independence and reduce costs of those with memory loss.

Project: Personal               Time: 3 Weeks              Tool: Adobe XD, Sketch

Context

During my week at Teach Access Study Away Silicon Valley program, I had the opportunity to visit many technology companies that advocate for accessibility in their products. Throughout the week, all students were put in small cross-institutional teams to solve an accessibility challenge whilst gaining an understanding of how to implement a product to help improve the lives of the accessibility community. My team came up with the idea of a non-intrusive smart-home system designed to help those with memory impairments maintain their independence as well as have an easier system in place for caregivers to be able to easily care for their loved ones.

Helping Home is a feature within smart home systems for caregivers and people with short-term memory loss to provide a non-intrusive way to monitor the patient, improve their notion of independence and provide a cost effective way to take care of someone.

Our Teach Access Team working in Verizon Media.

Research

5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050 this number will rise to 14 million. 1 in 8 adults suffer from some form of memory loss. The strain of being a caregiver increases the risk of illness and even death.

Questions we considered
  • How to remind to use medication?
  • Have users ever used a phone before?
  • What if the user never leaves their bed?
  • What happens when they leave their house?
  • Can the technology talk to you?
  • Technology could give the person a phone call?
  • What is our memory window?
  • What is our target audience’s average available memory time?
  • How does memory loss affect a person’s well-being?
  • What tone/language should be used by the application?
  • Will the product provide vocal instruction, visual instruction?
  • Would lights help?
  • What is the possible learning curve of these products?

Personas

Personas

People with short-term memory issues need a way to be effectively looked after because it is crucial to their health and well-being.

Caregivers need a way to keep track of the daily activities of people with short term memory loss because it is crucial to both the caregiver and patients health and well-being.

Solution

We believe that by building a feature within smart home systems for caregivers and people with short-term memory loss, we will:

  • Provide a non-intrusive easy way to monitor the patient.
  • Improve the patient’s notion of independence and self-dignity.
  • Provide a cost effective way to take care of someone.

Comparative Analysis
Features
  • Users are happy about phone calls to loved ones but loved ones can’t talk all day.
  • Unsolved problem areas: preventing wandering, loneliness.
  • Tech exists for pre-recorded reminders (talking tiles), but more modern tech could be used to go beyond this.
  • Current tech in wandering/loneliness space assumes full-time caregiver or someone available 24/7.
  • Chatbot tech working in conjunction with technology.
  • When person is recognized as trying to leave, have “phone calls” where “loved one” is trying to get their attention.
  • Notify caregiver to call at earliest convenience.
  • Letting patients talk to chatbot w/ caregiver voice - reduce burden on caregiver, make them happy during the day, encourage patients to talk more (stimulates their brain).
  • Can embed reminders into this.

Sketches

First Iteration

Creating reminders was too complicated.
User research found the UX was confusing.
Setting a firm schedule removes the freedom and independence of the patient with AD.
Removing the caretaker would reduce valuable time socializing.


New Concept

Activity

Using machine learning, an Artificial Intelligence will learn the patient’s habits. Over time, it will be able to identify any unusual behavior to the caretaker. The caregiver can view the activity of the patient anytime and be alerted when the user takes medicine or is occupying a sensor.

Sensors

The caretaker can edit the patient's current sensors to change the name of the alert, when to be alerted and what the alert sounds like.

Add a Sensor

Add another sensor to your house when necessary, and personalize it by giving it a name so it is easily identifiable to the caregiver.

Medicine

The caregiver is able to track when the medicine box has been opened and inform the patient what medicine they need to take and when.

Takeaways

  • I was fortunate enough to be able to do this project with three other extremely talented students from different universities and a variety of expertise - Information Architecture, Software Engineering and Robotics.
  • Worked with and learnt from industry professionals from companies such as Apple, Google, Verizon Media, Facebook, Intuit, Microsoft and LinkedIn.
  • I now have a deep understanding of the fundamental concepts and skills to implement inclusive design and development of technology for people with diverse abilities, including people with disabilities. This includes understanding common types of disabilities & current demographics, societal context and historical perspective, User Interface facilitators & barriers, common assistive technologies (AT), best practices for product development and applied techniques.