E.ffective L.one L.ifestyle A.ssistant
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The principle concept of E.L.L.A. is to offer the long term housebound (through illness, disability, dementia etc.) a voice-controlled assistant to help them to continue to lead their own lifestyle for as long as physically possible.
By combining already existing voice, video and internet technologies it is hoped that the concept can provide at least an access portal to the outside world and at most, with current exponential growths in artificial intelligence, a home assistant or even, dare I say, “friend” to help with everyday life.
My initial concept saw me start to create a “magic mirror” principle using a piece of 2-way acrylic and a Raspberry PI3. I quickly realised that I could advance on this principle by adding the use of now extremely popular “voice assistant” software. As I already owned an Amazon Alexa Echo Dot, I decided to base my original plans around that.
Originally, I wanted to incorporate an Alexa Echo Dot into the design itself, but in the interest of keeping costs down to a minimum I decided to remove the Echo Dot and use a usb microphone and superior Bluetooth speaker for sound. I could still use the functionality of Amazon Alexa by using their software independently of their hardware products. In a later revision I changed the software to using Google Assistant. The reason for that came after trialling the software and finding that, for my later needs with machine learning, that Google’s Assistant felt more lifelike conversationally.
I also wanted to add video conferencing functionality to the project, so I added a camera module to my list of equipment. This mad sense as the Raspberry PI includes a connection on board for a camera module and I had already utilised a usb microphone.
With the use of a microphone and camera module, I wanted to introduce video conferencing so that users could keep in touch with family members and also I had been made aware of the fact that several health authorities were now holding trials in using “virtual” doctor surgery appointments, this seemed like an obvious feature to be used in E.L.L.A.
I also wanted to include emergency usage within my setup, so I looked at battery backup to deal with power loss, a 3g/4g sim unit in case of internet loss, an emergency led light for use in total electricity loss and, utilising the 3g/4g sim unit, programming an emergency contact number in case of any accident/emergency.
Whilst researching revisions to my original concept, I decide that as I already had video and Wi-Fi capacity I could use this to add a video entry and electric door lock system that could be controlled via the E.L.L.A setup.
As this is in it’s first instance a voice-controlled assistant, I felt it could be used as a reminder list for ordering prescriptions, many doctor’s surgeries now allow the filling of repeat prescriptions over the internet, the creating of shopping lists that could then be ordered online, the setting of appointment reminders, special date reminders and the functionality of internet radio and text to speech for reading articles and books to the user.
With continued usage and advancements in Artificial Intelligence I hope it will enable a certain amount of conversational functionality which I believe would be of more use to dementia sufferers and long-term house bound.
It was my intention that this “base” unit could be interconnected with further “passive” microphone units through out a household so that any emergency functionality was not just confined to one room.
I would like to take some time now to discuss some of my inspiration behind my idea’s.
For one, my daughter works for a community care firm visiting housebound people to offer short term care and home help. Some of her biggest frustrations are that they might be the only people that the service users see on that particular day and the time that is allotted to their care is sometimes as short as 15-30 minutes per visit. Not all of the service users get visits every day, so this means that they can often lack human interaction for almost 48 hours at a time. This can possibly lead to one of the many silent killers of older housebound people, loneliness and depression.
Another my inspirations comes from a personal position I found myself in almost two and a half years ago. I had several personal issues which culminated in my having a “nervous” breakdown. It took several months before I could face going out into public, within that time I had become withdrawn, sullen and clinically depressed. I feel that a lot of my issues at the time could have been partially alleviated with the use of a system such as E.L.L.A.
I do feel at this juncture I should note that I do not see my idea as being a replacement for human interaction, merely as a helper for the times when that interaction is not available and to allow as much autonomy in a service users lifestyle as appropriate.
My idea uses a lot of “off the shelf” parts and from an engineering aspect, that may not seem that exciting, however it allows the swapping in and out of components for differently required needs, aren’t we all individuals?, as and when required. I realized that I didn’t want a product that was stiffly set as one thing, I wanted something that could be scaled up or down as the individual required.
I hope after reading this you can see the value in my project for the community at large and please leave your vote for me!
p.s. Whether I win this competition or not I will continue to review and reassess my project until I have found a functional design that I can hopefully trial and turn into a working prototype ready for launch.
One of my newest revisions whilst trying out Google’s AIY Voice kit.
Again a new revision with Google’s AIY voice kit, backup battery 2 way acrylic whilst using a 7” android tablet behind to project through!
And to end, a B.O.M. (or a Bill Of Materials), please note all prices are rough guides and are subject to change!
1x Raspberry PI3 model B+ £36.59 (includes 16gb Noobs micro sd card)
1x Raspberry PI touchscreen display £46.89
1x 3mm 2way see through acrylic £14.00
1x Raspberry PI power supply £6.75
1x Hdmi cable £2.85
1x Raspberry PI camera £8.04
1X USB powered speaker system £8.99
1x USB Omnidirectional Microphone £13.99
1x Wireless Video Doorbell £69.99
Grand Total= £208.09
(note that a keyboard and mouse are required at initial setup only)
All prices correct at time of research 11/06/18.
Many thanks for reading,