We were inspired by the challenge to create a hack for social good. This challenge not only because it motivated the group to have a fun time but also to try and use our technical expertise to possibly improve the lives of others. We approached this by looking at current events in the United States. Of note were the heat waves that swept the northeast a few months ago. It is often the case that residents of these regions do not have adequate A/C in their homes. With this in mind, we set out to tackle these challenges as well others faced by the elderly community.

What it does

Our all-inclusive Care++ kit accomplishes three main goals.

  1. Monitor in-home weather conditions to alert health providers, caretakers, and relatives of conditions that can lead to heatstroke.
  2. Utilize an inertial measurement unit to detect situations of a fall and contact relevant emergency response.
  3. Provide a platform for easy identifications of medical data.

How we built it

The project makes heavy use of the Matrix Creator platform. It hosted all of the relevant LEDs and Sensors for the project as well as the hardware for NFC programming and reading.

We utilized a combination of javascript and python that run on each individual station. This was used in combination with the Matrix lite hardware abstraction layer to allow for rapid prototyping and easy program flow.

The website was built on the Google Cloud platform and utilized Node.js and react.

Challenges we ran into

A large portion of the start-up hurdles revolved around understanding the Matrix platform and what it was capable of. Being a brand new platform for everyone in the group we tested the various sensors trying to decipher which would be relevant for our particular purpose. We had to perform some hardware tricks to get the temperature reading to be accurate due to the sensors close proximity to the CPU of the raspberry pi.

After this, we tried to add google voice functionality, but after many failed API certifications we decided to scrap the feature as it was not integral to our objective.

We then moved to the website side of the equation and this is where most of the problems arose. We only had one experienced web developer on the team and as such, it was very difficult to group troubleshoot issues related to the web-sockets of the website.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are extremely proud of the entirety of the suite. We set out to accomplish a plethora of tasks and we feel that we fleshed out each one.

The original goal of preventing heat stroke was accomplished to 100% satisfaction.

What we learned

For the hardware team, this was the first time we had used python for a hardware-driven project. Coming from a background of pure C certain things were a breath of fresh air. I could not imagine trying to interact with a web interface from hardware in C.

There were certain quirks to using an interpreted language in hardware-driven development. (Don't ask us about interrupts.)

On the web development side of things, all but one of us were exposed to javascript for the first time and integrating our work with Google Cloud was brand new for all of us.

What's next for Care++

We all hope to continue to use the Matrix platform going forward and possibly make the documentation more robust in an effort to make it more accessible to outside developers.

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