During sweltering summer days, cars can be become very hot very fast. Many people accidentally leave their dogs, or even young children and infants, in their vehicles, while picking up groceries or shopping. Even though they expect to be gone for only 20 minutes or less, during this time, car temperatures can reach about 110 degrees within minutes. 39 children died of heat stroke in overheated cars in 2016, accumulating to hundred of child deaths since 1998. Thousands of pets die per year in these cars. We wanted to stop these tragic and preventable deaths.
What it does
Hot Dog is an IoT application, using IBM Watson's Node-RED and the Raspberry Pi. Users place the hardware, comprised of the Raspberry Pi and a temperature sensor, near their windshield in the car. Hot Dog will keep track of the temperature within their vehicle while they are running errands. When the measured temperature is about to reach dangerously high-levels and it detects a presence in the car, the application will send a text message to the user, warning them that they are potentially putting their pet/child at risk of heat stroke. If the car does become extremely hot, the app will also call Animal Control or 911 automatically as a second resort. As another addition to the IoT capability, we have a twitter account linked that tweets from the pet's perspective calling for help on a large social scale. In addition, we have made a web application dashboard that displays the live temperature updates, grabs data from a weather api to display heat patterns, graphs the temperatures fetched through the Pi, and displays the tweets.
How we built it
Challenges we ran into
As first-time hardware hackers, we were completely new to using microprocessors and microcomputers. We went from trying to use the Raspberry Pi, to the Intel Edison, to the Arduino Uno, back to the Edison, and finally to choosing the Raspberry Pi. We were trying to figure out how to attach a temperature sensor and how to connect the device on Node-RED as an IoT device. After many installations and attempts, we finally managed to retrieve data from a Raspberry Pi. Additionally, we had to simulate the temperature, so we also used a separate IoT device to manually change the temperature. We had troubles learning how to use Node-RED and how to connect nodes and data payloads appropriately. The twitter feature had authorization issues as well. Every step felt like 3 steps back to begin with, but we finally had a product at the end.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We made an IoT application that works! We successfully connected the data from the Pi to multiple outlets/platforms including web, Android, and SMS tools. It was amazing to see how Node-RED could so easily send information live onto our phones and other laptops. Our idea actually solves a real-life problem that could potentially save many lives lost every year. All of us see on the news that some small child died of heat stroke while their parents were following their busy schedule and just simply forgot how hot the day was. Way too many helpless pets die from this very issue as well, and our app can work to lower the number of fatalities.
What we learned
We expanded our horizons beyond simply software and integrated hardware into our hack. We learned of the crazy capabilities of the Raspberry Pi, how to interface the Pi with serial communication, and how to integrate peripheral senors onto the hardware. We learned about the power of Node-RED to connect everything together and more about how node modules work. As students from USC and Stanford and strangers at first, we learned how to emphasize everyone's talents yet also learn a lot about each part of the project.
What's next for Hot Dog
Ideally, this application will be incorporated into cars across the country or encourage car manufactures to make their own implementations to monitor car temperatures. To improve the accuracy of our hardware, we will add sound sensors to detect noises such as barking or crying along with the temperatures so that users will only get notifications and warnings when the hardware is sure that the owner is out and there is life at risk in the car. The hardware will eventually have LED lights displaying warnings to passerbys when some being is threatened. We aim to educate people about the dangers of leaving lives in hot vehicles as well and raise awareness. We are improving our Android interface and tried making a Android launcher widget as well, so we definitely want to make more mobile apps for Hot Dog to supplement the mobile accessibility and provide information easily on mobile home screens like it does on our existing apps.