One of our team members' grandfathers went blind after slipping and hitting his spinal cord, going from a completely independent individual to reliant on others for everything. The lack of options was upsetting, how could a man who was so independent be so severely limited by a small accident. There is current technology out there for blind individuals to navigate their home, however, there is no such technology that allows blind AND frail individuals to do so. With an increasing aging population, Elderlyf is here to be that technology. We hope to help our team member's grandfather and others like him regain his independence by making a tool that is affordable, efficient, and liberating.
What it does
Ask your Alexa to take you to a room in the house, and Elderlyf will automatically detect which room you're currently in, mapping out a path from your current room to your target room. With vibration disks strategically located underneath the hand rests, Elderlyf gives you haptic feedback to let you know when objects are in your way and in which direction you should turn. With an intelligent turning system, Elderlyf gently helps with turning corners and avoiding obstacles.
How I built it
With a Jetson Nano and RealSense Cameras, front view obstacles are detected and a map of the possible routes are generated. SLAM localization was also achieved using those technologies. An Alexa and AWS Speech to Text API was used to activate the mapping and navigation algorithms. By using two servo motors that could independently apply a gentle brake to the wheels to aid users when turning and avoiding obstacles. Piezoelectric vibrating disks were also used to provide haptic feedback in which direction to turn and when obstacles are close.
Challenges I ran into
Mounting the turning assistance system was a HUGE challenge as the setup needed to be extremely stable. We ended up laser-cutting mounting pieces to fix this problem.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're proud of creating a project that is both software and hardware intensive and yet somehow managing to get it finished up and working.
What I learned
Learned that the RealSense camera really doesn't like working on the Jetson Nano.
What's next for Elderlyf
Hoping to incorporate a microphone to the walker so that you can ask Alexa to take you to various rooms even though the Alexa may be out of range.