System Design Project

Pal

Pal is my fourth-year thesis project. It is a smart home system that supports informal caregivers caring for loved ones with dementia. 

Role 

Designer

Type of Project 

Thesis Project, Carleton University

Timeline

8 months

Context

Problem

Informal caregivers are the spouses or children of the person with dementia; they do not get paid for caregiving or have formal training. Informal caregivers care for their loved one with dementia on average 44.6 hours/per week.

The healthcare system lacks focus on informal caregivers for people living with dementia.

New caregivers take on a great deal of responsibility very quickly. They must learn to adapt their lifestyle to provide sufficient care to maintain the quality of life of the person living with dementia. This lifestyle has a high risk of driving caregivers to negative health outcomes and burnout and becoming the 'second patient.' 

Solution

Pal is a system that supports informal caregivers of loved ones with dementia by keeping them informed about what their loved one is doing, without always needing to be present in the home.

Acts as a partner to the caregiver

Customizable to the caregivers’ lifestyle

Notifies the caregiver to keep them informed

System Components

Hub

The main base is where the data is stored locally, connects the sensors, monitoring irregular activities, and provides auditory cues and verbal reminders. 

Sensors

Monitors irregular activities in the home, and they connect with the hub.

Wearable

Inform the sensor system that the activities done by the caregiver around the home should not be tracked to avoid mixed user data.

Data Visualization App

The app provides the caregiver with a platform to view in-home sensor data clearly and concisely.

Conceptual Model

Building the system was a large part of the work to figure out how everything works together fluidly. I designed a conceptual model of the system, which is a high-level description of how the system operates.

Hub

LOCAL STORAGE

Safety and security,  ethical, in the control of the caregiver to share data and control who has access.

LED's

Provides visual cues for the caregiver to be aware of the device status.

MONITORING

Monitors irregular activities around the home of the person living with dementia, such as movement, water usage, interactions with drawers, and cupboards.

AUDITORY CUEING

Provides auditory cues for the person with dementia to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

CHARGING SENSORS

Charges sensors on the top of the hub.

CONNECTION POINT FOR SENSORS

Sensors and the wearable are connected through Bluetooth to the hub.

HUB SYSTEM LOGIC

The logic behind the system that directs the sensor system whether they should remind the person with dementia to alter their behavior in order to stay healthy, relieving some workload from the caregiver follows a simple logic model.

INTERNAL COMPONENTS

Sensors

MONITORING

Monitors irregular activities around the home of the person living with dementia, such as movement, water usage, interactions with drawers, and cupboards.

LED's

Locating sensors around the home when PLWD moves them.

 

Notifies the caregiver when the sensors are turned on.

Wearable

DIFFERENTIATES BETWEEN CAREGIVERS AND THE PERSON LIVING WITH DEMENTIA'S IN-HOME ACTIVITY

The wearable is worn by the caregiver when they are in the home of the person living with dementia to inform the sensor system that the activities done by them should not be tracked. 

ADAPTABLE

The wearable can be worn in a variety of configurations based on what suits the caregiver’s preferences.

NO CHARGING

By utilizing a vicinity chip to notify the sensors around the home, this means that the wearable does not need to be charged, as it uses minimal power when in the proximity of the other sensors. 

 

Meaning the caregiver does not have to worry about keeping it charged.

Data Visualization Platform

The app provides the caregiver with a platform to view

in-home sensor data clearly and concisely.

 

The sections of the app include:

ACTIVITY

This section visualizes the data collected from the in-home sensors in a clear and concise manner, so the caregiver is able to the information they would like in order to feel supported and informed whilst going about their regular daily routines.

The data is visualized in two different ways:

Highlights

Detailed

DEVICES

This section informs caregivers about the in-home sensor system devices.

 

The caregiver is able to:

See what hubs, sensors and wearables are connected around the home.

Connect new hubs, sensors and wearables.

CAREGIVER PROFILE

A section is for the caregiver, in order to have their own space in the app and remember that they are an essential person while caring for their loved one with dementia.

 

In this section, caregivers can:

Identify their role as a caregiver.

Stay informed about how they are feeling.

Remember their interests and hobbies so they continue to enjoy them.

SETTINGS

The caregiver has control over the system and can customize it to fit their lifestyle and the person living with dementia’s lifestyle. 

System Settings

The caregiver is able to customize the system so it fits their lifestyle and the person with dementia's lifestyle.

Sharing Data

The caregiver is able to share data from the sensors and control who has access to view the data. 

Security

The caregiver is able to change their password for the app itself.

Projects

Copyright©2020 Allison Kachala

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