We wanted to create a monitoring tool to help older and disabled people and those who care for them. We strived to make our solution accessible and cost-effective, with a very low tech barrier.
What it does
Loora tracks when a person passes in front of it. If no movement is detected for a while or the device disconnects, it will alert the carer at their phone.
Loora tracks movements in front of the node with an ultrasound distance sensor. The LoRa (long range) module sends a post request to our Flask app running on Google App Engine. The record is stored in an Entity in Datastore. If no record is posted in a certain amount of time, our Google Scheduler cronjob will trigger the Twilio API and send a Whatsapp message to the carer alerting them of inactivity.
Our cronjob also triggers another endpoint to notify the carer if the device goes offline.
How we built it
We built our node out of an ESP-32 with LoRa and attached an ultrasound sensor to it. We also set up our own LoRa gateway to ensure LoRa coverage in our area.
For the software, we worked with Python and Flask to build our main app. We first developed the backend and set up the datastore. We also set up a Twilio project to send Whatsapp messages.
Once our backend was working seamlessly we started to work on a simple front end to provide some more info on our project, as well as add some features.
Challenges we ran into
We didn't have time or money to buy the hardware we needed, so we had to ask someone to lend it to us. Thankfully, the TheThingsNetwork community is very active in Catalonia. Roger, one of the members, was quick to reply to our messages and lend us a Gateway and a couple of ESP-32 with LoRa.
Since it was our first time working with a LoRa Gateway we also struggled with connecting it to the cloud at the start.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were a hybrid team with two members on-site and two others remote, and it was Bilal's first hackathon. We are very happy with our teamwork and our ability to collaborate despite the circumstances.
What we learned
For three of us, this was our first hardware hackathon, and we have discovered that the barrier of entry is not that high. We will make more hardware hacks soon.
It was our first time working with LoRa at a hackathon, and Toti loved it.
We also learned quite a bit about Google Cloud's Datastore.
But of course, Bilal has learned the most. This was the first time that he participated in a Hackathon. He learned about the operation of the VisualStudio environment and helped with the preparation of some of the functions required for the project. It was also the first time I used Github.
What's next for Loora
We are very happy with the result. However, we acknowledge that there are always improvements to be made. Specifically, we would like to create a LoRa powered panic button.