Author: Jeffrey Sebastian,Yadia Yvette Colindres, Yeh-Liang Hsu(2015-06-06);
recommendation: Yeh-Liang Hsu (2015-06-06).
Design of an alert system as a lighting device for homes
are required in environments such as homes and care-homes for older adults. Most
commercially available alert systems, such as Lifefone, Tattletale and Medical
Guardian’s alert systems (Figure 1), share common characteristics. They consist
of an alert button and a receiving module. To trigger an alert by push-button in
case of emergency is their main function. This research takes a different approach
into the design of an alert system that is not based on a button trigger.
“Drop” will be used to exemplify this approach and attempt to integrate an
alert system into a daily use item such as a lamp and have other ways of
interaction through visual stimuli by lightning.
Figure 1. Commercial
Alert Systems, Tattletale, Lifefone and Medical Guard (from left to right)
Drop, a multipurpose alert
Drop (Figure 2)
is a water drop shaped lamp that can be placed in various areas in the
household. With an ergonomic design that fits the hands for easy handling, it
includes a set of sensors that allow interaction with the user. These sensors
are strategically located so the user can also trigger the alert system
concealed inside Drop. The light emitted by Drop is generated by an array of
LEDs that are programmed to adapt to the user’s needs by changing color,
intensity and behavior. Drop contains a series of sensors that allow the user
to use it as an ambience light or as an indicator and an alert system (Figure
2a). Through touch sensors the user is able to change the mood or color of the
Figure 2. Drop, a
multipurpose alert system
call system triggers without a button, just by covering the opening of the lamp,
the infrared sensor can detect such action and interpret the situation. The
position of the hand while triggering the emergency is based on the “safe hand”
position (Figure 2b). This safe hand position is the orthopedically natural
hand rest position (Lee & Jung. 2014; Daniels, et al. 2015). This way of
triggering is suitable especially for those users that might suffer of a
muscular dystrophy and are not able to press buttons. Through a smart phone App,
the care giver can receive an alert sent by Drop immediately. The caregiver can
then respond to the alert through the App. Drop allows the user know help is on
the way through changing the color from red to green, being red the color of
the light when the emergency call is triggered. By having Drop turn green, a
reassuring feeling can be sent to the older adult in a struggle.
Figure 3 presents the information structure of Drop. The
local interaction of Drop can be triggered by touch sensors placed around Drop’s
structure while the alert system depends on the IR sensor inside the lamp. Both
sensors are connected to the microprocessing unit that has as an output to RGB
LED lights and a wifi module that connects to a cloud server through an access
point (AP) in the home. The cloud server is connected to the cloud messaging
service that will notify the mobile device carried by the caregiver. The mobile
device will also send respond signal to the cloud server and the microprocessor
will interpret the data and output it to the RGB LED light.
Figure 3. Drop’s information structure
Due to its
design, Drop is not limited to be used by older adults but also by other users
that might need an alert system at home. Being this alert system concealed
inside an ambient lamp, also allows the users to have these triggers in
different areas of their homes without disrupting the ambiance of such
households. Drop’s ergonomic design allows users to use the orthopedic safe
hand position to trigger the emergency alert. Drop is now in a prototyping
stage and we are to test the scenarios with real users in the near future. The
non-button based design of Drop allows the user to have different ways of interacting
with an alert system.
Medical Alert System & PERS
| LifeFone. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2015, from https://www.lifefone.com/
Portable, Wireless Security.
(n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2015, from https://www.tattletale.com/
Medical Guardian, L. (n.d.).
Medical Alert Systems, Devices & Alarms for Seniors in Emergencies |
Medical Guardian. Retrieved April 16, 2015, from https://www.medicalguardian.com/
Lee, K. S., & Jung, M. C.
(2014). Flexion and extension angles of resting fingers and wrist. International Journal of Occupational Safety
and Ergonomics, 20(1), 91-101.
Daniels, J., Zook, E., &
Lynch, J. (2015, April 1). Hand and Wrist Injuries: Part I. Nonemergent
Evaluation. Retrieved April 27, 2015, from