A Perspective on KineticCare, A Platform to Improve Elder Care

A challenge that many people face at some point in their lives is caring for an elderly person. Whether it is a parent, extended family member, friend, or neighbor, it is often a difficult situation, especially when the elderly person in question lives alone. Autonomy is great for the person’s psyche, but can be a real challenge for those tasked with their well being. Technology provides a range of obvious tools to help with this.  But how do you bring that technology into the mix when dealing with a generation often uncomfortable interacting with it?

That question was posed at a regular meetup of a few friends in the Tampa area, including Software Logistics founder Kevin Wolf.  Several members of the group had recently dealt with health problems in their immediate families, so there was a discussion about how you could improve elder care with technology. The conversation naturally drifted towards home monitoring to help avoid difficult and costly trips to the doctor’s office or hospital.

Out of this conversation was born KineticCare, a solution designed to help reduce the average length of stay in in the hospital, reduce the number of trips to a healthcare facility, and allow monitoring of the person’s health while they are at home. All of this makes the job of the healthcare providers easier, while allowing the person to live in their own home on their own for a longer period of time. Being at home in a familiar environment is important to recovery, and KineticCare is designed to facilitate that process.

The project, executed during the AT&T Developer Summit Hackathon in 2016, used a number of technologies to make this possible. The team used an Intel Edison-based wearable health monitor to detect changes in heart rate, EKG,  and falls, a Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c-based home hub for communication, and AT&T’s M2X Internet of Things (IoT) platform to bring all of the data together.

If a problem is detected and the patient does not confirm that they are okay, KineticCare jumps into action. An emergency contact or emergency personnel are contacted, and current medical conditions can be sent to the responders en route. Using a Philips Hue bulb, an emergency light can flash outside, allowing responders to find the correct house easily. Using AT&T Digital Life, the alarm system and door locks can be disabled, permitting the emergency responders easy access to the patient without having to take down a door or break a window.

The scalability of the IoT solution was the most important part of the system. With so many different types of input and output, a robust messaging system was needed in the middle to cause a particular movement on the wearable sensor to turn on emergency lights and ask the patient if they are okay. Then, being able to flash a light from Philips while turning off an AT&T Digital Life security system, all from a single command, added a new level of difficulty. All of this was only possible because of the middleware processing capabilities.

The response to the project at the hackaton was incredibly positive, especially considering the hardware and software were all tied together within a 24-hour timeframe. KineticCare won the top prize, as well as Best Use of AT&T Sponsored Data API, Best Use of Harman APIs, and the Qualcomm Technology Challenge. Following the event, KineticCare was demonstrated at other IoT-focused events, including IBM Interconnect 2016, where it garnered further interest. Because of the nature of the system, that interest could lead the initial prototype to support other sensors, including indoor humidity, power usage and more.

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