Companion

The Internet of Things for independent seniors to age gracefully.

Companion aims to help seniors maintain an independent lifestyle and give peace of mind to relatives that care. It brings us close, when we can’t be. It utilizes different devices and sensors in IoT. Smart plugs, lights, motion tracker, emergency button and etc. track daily routines and allow early detection.

Main Problems of Current IoT Systems

The research process began with general insight collection through user interviews. The goal is to find out what’s causing people to not be able to do what they want with the IoT they currently have. The main findings are as follow.

Major concerns for privacy, ownership and over complication of previously simple objects.

Overwhelming “unfocused” dashboards provide disparate, non-actionable reporting of the data.

The current Internet of things landscape consists of software platforms that focus too much on home automation, which might become “out of control”.

Family physicians and remote caregivers are not well-informed about senior family members’ health condition. Sometimes seniors get into trouble long before they see the doctor.

I created 2 personas. One persona is a health-conscious mother who is living by herself and the other one is an anxious adult daughter who is living thousands kilometers away from her parents.

↑ Personas

Basic Housekeeping Functions

Device Management: How to group smart devices? By their location in the house, or by activity or by function?

How to deliver messages to seniors and to care-givers in the right way, and right time? For example, a system that monitors the vital signs of a cardiac patient might calculate that he has a 25% chance of having a heart attack in the next 48 hours. Should it tell him? - "You might die tomorrow"?

Viewing and managing all the devices

Proactive messaging on homepage

Actionable Stories

Companion smart home is designed to manage household budgets and take on the role of a personal shopper.

Stories in the moment are displayed depending on whether they are useful within that context or not. Stories can be swiped away to snooze for later or acted upon.

Talk to things

Actionable results

Important proactive alerts

Peace of mind for family members

Seniors can share data with family members and professionals. With seniors' permission, distant family members can find access to their parents’ health data and on-line diagnoses and medical record. Doctors can intercept before seniors get to the point where they have to be hospitalized.

Companion has real time health updates and emergency alerts. Alerts will be sent to family members and caregivers when out of the ordinary is happening.

Keep users in control of permissions

One important part of privacy is about controlling information: what is released and who sees what. Companion provides the ability to set privacy settings during the setup and onboarding process.

Room level privacy settings allow users to control the information collected in sensitive areas

Access level settings allow users to be in control of what they want to share and with whom

Further research

Internet of things is still very young.

How to increase acceptance by the elderly themselves? Reminding someone that they have failed to take their medication may be of no use if that person has decided simply that they don’t want to take it.

How to scale the UX? Device-centric UX is fine for small numbers of devices. But what if there are 100 devices?

Can IoT helps to combat boredom, depression, isolation and loneliness in seniors?

Privacy and safety is always a big concern. The ability to set room level privacy settings that allow users to control the information collected in sensitive areas is just one thought.