Trends predict that life expectancy rates will continue to grow and so too will quality of life and condition of health. The elderly community will be among one of the largest segments of our population. SI (Safety & Independence) is the result of my undergraduate final year major project. It is an all-in-one personal alert and emergency alarm watch, designed for the elderly who desire to remain independent, while still giving their families and loved ones peace of mind, knowing they're safe. The overall aim of this project is to improve quality of life from a safety and security standpoint while prolonging elderly autonomy. Check out the video below.
The duration in which elderly people can live independently is increasing. However, lack of personal confidence and absence of safety and security may reduce this. In the mind of the senior, the thought of an accident happening when by themselves can often be worse than the accident itself. In a study conducted by the HSE, numerous elderly people expressed that their greatest fear regarding a long-term care illness or event was being a burden to their family.
Wearables and smartwatches are hugely popular yet are geared more toward the tech savvy rather than the people who could really benefit from their use, the elderly. Existing tech like panic buttons and call bracelets need to be developed in the same innovative manner that fitness trackers are.
The Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) market is a saturated one, filled with products that don’t adequately account for the user’s needs. It is evident that the elderly community need a more functional, practical and inexpensive way of informing their loved ones that they are safe, without infringing their independent lifestyle.
Numerous design iterations were created during the concept generation phase. Continuous product feedback and critique allowed me to go from assuming what the user wants and needs to knowing, with validity, what is necessary.
By continually involving the end user in the development process, user experience, user interaction and product usability could be catered to as best possible. The physical form of the product is crucial but for a product like this to succeed, it must be functionally compatible with its user. Throughout the project, the concept of "it has to be harder to do it wrong, than do it right" was imperative.
Various models and prototypes were created and tested during the design process. The somewhat complex features demanded of the product's functionality resulted in numerous failed attempts before arriving to a working circuit demonstrating how SI works as well as a model indicating form, feel, size and weight.
The product is carefully assembled in a specific order combining all the necessary components so as to efficiently use the small amount of space within the casing.
When not in use, SI is charged via the inductive charging dock. The user simply rests their watch on the curved shelf of the dock and the charging process will take place.
The entire end-to-end user experience and interaction with SI from the point of opening the box to actually using the device is simple and this simplicity is mirrored in the rigid paperboard packaging.
This particular model is seen as the first iteration in a diverse product line. Various product styles and functionalities could be made available in the next generation models which could cater toward different user groups and markets.
In its normal state, the LCD screen displays, clearly, the time and battery life. If at any point throughout the day the user feels it is required, they can alert their predefined contact group, through means of an automated SMS text message, by pressing the singular button. The device tells the user that an alert has been sent.
Using a personalised and customisable calendar, SI knows when to alert the user, reminding them to do something, in this case (below) reminding them to take medicine. If the user acknowledges and silences the alarm by pushing the button, the device resets to the standard display and carries on as normal.
If, by chance, a personalised alert goes unanswered, SI recognises this. When the user receives a reminder alert they have one minute to acknowledge it, by pushing the button, thus silencing the alarm. If, for some reason, the user does not press the button recognising the alert in this minute, a text message will be sent.