Sunday, 27 January 2013

SenseEgg - The Caring Egg for you and your family

This good egg monitors the wellbeing of those who live on their own, young and old. We may have an accident, fall and who will know? You may know someone elderly or with Alzheimer's. If you are at home and possibly unwell and not eating regularly, the sensors in the egg will automatically send a text message to a friend or carer.  This is done by monitoring the status of your fridge, for example has it been opened recently?  No installation is required, just a simple setup of phone SIM card. A total of 5 sensors inside the egg monitor the well being of the fridge and it's usage, which can then infer the health of the person.   The fridge was chosen as a  frequently used appliance at home, for when we eat, drink tea or beer, or feed our pets.   If you have not opened your fridge for a few hours, a time you can choose yourself, then a text message is sent to a friend. An added benefit is a fridge light, a warm white LED which comes on automatically to light your fridge, just in case your fridge does not have one.  The battery life is estimated to be a year. Girton Labs  plan on using a trusted  UK partner and  manufacturer .

The image shows a 3D CAD rendering but the technology has the component parts (sensors, software,  GSM  modem) built and tested by Girton Labs. A mobile  phone signal will transmit and receive from inside a normal metal  fridge, tested with Samsung Galaxy S3.
It is the latest version of SenseBulb, the caring lightbulb,  as covered by the BBC News in 2009 here. This design was in the formfactor of a lightbulb but new mobile phone  technology  has enabled the monitoring system to be built into an egg sized formfactor.

Example SMS  text message

The 5 sensors monitor:

  • Fridge door opening, by ambient  light detected from kitchen and also movement of door
  • Correct temperature of fridge.
  • sound and motion sensor - if picked up in hand can determine user state and send message
  • touch - tap for settings
  • power saving sensors
  • fridge door left open alert

The entire egg will glow a variety of colours to indicate status, Red, alarm, fridge not opened for a while and text message sent. Other alerts  are  fridge temperature over 4C - amber flash , status ok -  blue , flashing green -  warning to user that you have not eaten for a while. An audio alert is provided.
There is no on/off switch required. Initial installation requires a phone number programmed into the egg. The case design will be waterproof and can be washed and dropped  (Protection to IP55). The two halves clip together with a waterproof seal to allow battery fitting.

Prototype proof of concept is based on Arduino. This reads sensor data and does the digital signal processing to decide when to send an alert.

Further Designs

The goal is for an initial low cost simple monitoring egg.
The Egg can also infer if the person in the house (e.g. mobile phone present).
Later designs may use  GPS location.
There is also a design for a finger sensor that can detect the health status of the person and decide is an alert needs to be sent.
A gas sensor may be used to detect decaying food.
Depending on how often  text messages sent and therefore battery drain, a contactless charger in the form of an eggcup may be used.

Designed by Lyndsay Williams, Girton Labs Ltd.
Contact Details Lyndsay Williams tel : +44 (0)7970 101578

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The "Internet of Things" , some 2012 Research from Northumbria University P3i Lab

I  was a  Reader in Hardware and Software for Northumbria University from January to October 2012  at the new P3i Lab at White Lion Street,  Islington, London as set up by Professor Raymond Oliver. This Lab is part of Northumbria University School of Design.

some 2012 designs - click to enlarge

 I helped set up the P3i  lab, some of the research directions and initiated designs  for Smart Sensing Clothes, Anticipatory Medicine and the Internet of Things. Some of the sensors we used (one bit of memory) were smaller than a grain of sugar.

The below sensor and medical research is now continued at Girton Labs, Cambridge.

Anticipatory medicine -  Glxcam

This is a lifelogging camera with medical sensors and haptic controllers. The plan is for it to anticipate medical issues.  Device can also link to a mobile phone and get brief text alerts to glance at. Glxcam  is the next stage  from  my design of SenseCam for Microsoft. There are additional thermal imaging sensors. Printed 3D model as below. Slides as here.

E-Ribbon, a novel bidirectional sensing ribbon, 2mm wide for medical sensing. See image below of 3D CAD design  next to a standard 5mm Light Emitting Diode for scale.  This can be woven into a fabric for medical sensing, e.g. temperature, touch, pressure or acceleration. More details here. There were possible applications for Early Onset Epilepsy Detection as discussed here.

We used semiconductors (one bit memory)  that were smaller than a sugar grain from NXP.

Smart Sensing bandage controller and data logger, based on Arduino Mini. See image below. 

SmartTumble. We will require in future  smart sensing clothes for medical and sportswear. These clothes have built in health care sensors, e.g. temperature or motion sensors, e.g. accelerometers, that can be used for fall detection in senior people or people who live on their own.  However people do not want to be concerned with recharging  batteries every day or we might even forget. If this can be done automatically every day "in the wash" this can be useful. The sensors could be built into buttons and so garments manufactured by machine in the normal way. The energy storage can use small Aerogel capacitors.   Various electromagnetic, chemical  and mechanical charging systems were investigated, as a possible method of power harvesting,  as the washing machine provides a variety of powerful sources. This is ongoing work at Girton Labs.

Smartbuttons as used in SmartTumble

image taken from "How it works"

Repurposing Tyre Pressure Measurement Sensors.  These TPMS semiconductors  are low cost ($5) vehicle sensors for pressure, temperature and 2 dimension acceleration monitoring with wireless monitoring. We investigated repurposing these for medical sensors for the body. This is ongoing work at Girton Labs.


Simulation of new surfaces, e.g. wetness. In enhancing the sense of touch, we require new ways of thinking. We tested a Peltier Chiller, which as well as chilling, the cold provides a sense of evaporation and so the feeling of wetness on the human skin. This system was also found to be effective for an alternative analgesic for headaches and is in test Jan 2013. See image below.

Research from October 2012

SenseBulb Plus.  (Aka Deathwatch ) This is a device for assisted living, and for people who live on their own. Here is an earlier prototype SenseBulb.  If a person has become ill, for example, fallen, an alert is sent via  phone  text message (Sensebulb version 1) or  Twitter if not movement for a number of hours.

 It has the advantage of other monitoring systems:
1.  not needing sensors installed in every room of a house.
2. no device attached to person
3. reliable message sent to multiple sources, e.g. Text Message, Twitter
4. no intrusion of privacy
5. multiple sensors including temperature, light  and electricity usage.

 It works by monitoring electricity usage in a house, currently AlertMe is used. Normal home activity can consist of switching on and off lights, e.g. visit to bathroom etc and if this is not done for a period of several hours an alert is sent. Image below  from AlertMe. The advantage of using Twitter is that it is an automated  more public broadcast that could save a  life.
Multiple sensor sources can be used e.g. heat and motion detection using thermopiles.

 Saturday 19th Jan 2013 activity, using computer, housework, cooking, washing etc.
Peaks are kettle on, cooking

inactivity - day off ill Jan 2013

Using water flow for detecting wellbeing.

Prior work done by Williams (Kent Meters, Luton)  included water monitoring, using older magnetic water flow sensors,  but this was possibly intrusive and not desired.  e.g. monitoring fresh water usage in a bathroom and therefore hygiene monitoring of person. However there is new Girton Labs design on a system that uses an high frequency sensor  to detect water flow on the mains water pipe inlet  and product alerts if no usage for several hours.

Older work pre 2011

Here is my introductory presentation to Northumbria University in Sept 2011. It covers some of  my prior research in Digital Audio, sensing for mobile phones,  Microsoft and Apple.

Designs by Lyndsay Williams and financed by Girton Labs Ltd.
contact Lyndsay Williams