The last few months have seen some of the most extreme weather experienced on planet earth. Large storms such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, were the driving force behind mass evacuations of coastal cities in the United States. When individuals leave their homes and belongings and hope for the best, they have no way of knowing the health of the house or appliances in their house until a problem occurs. We have designed a low cost, low power solution to monitor the health and status of your home and belongings. This solution pushes data to the internet when a connection is available, and stores data locally when an internet connection is not present.
One common problem from evacuations is the warming of refrigeration units due to a lack of power, and then a subsequent cooling back to the correct temperature if power is restored before the residents return. This can cause food to spoil with the residents never knowing, and can cause sickness in any food consumed. One of our Bluetooth connected modules monitors the continuous temperature of the inside of a refrigerator and by post-processing this data gathered, it can be determined whether or not a prolonged temperature fluctuation is cause for health concern and it can be advised to throw out food. Other modules we developed over this hackathon are a sound and a humidity module. The sound module is listening for sound intensity and won't be invading privacy, but is in place to listen for something like a tree crashing through your roof. Watching humidity fluctuations is important because a drastic rise in humidity can cause mold growth within the structure of your house where you would not normally look.
The second component to our project is to network these devices across many homes. If there are many homes giving environmental data to rescue crews, first responders have the information required to intelligently do a search. Even the loss of data from the sensor network is useful information. For example first responders will be able to better track the storm front and see where humidity is rising, where houses are being damaged, and give better information about how a storm is advancing. In addition to first responders benefiting from the data, this product may be something that Insurance companies want to purchase. Sensor networks such as these will allow insurance companies to have advance notice on what claims may be filed in the future, and what steps may need to be taken to help as many people as possible.
If we were to proceed with this idea, we would want to integrate more sensors such as submersible depth sensor to sense flooding, CO2 and O2 sensors to monitor organic decomposition, and possibly temperature modules for detection such as a house fire. We would also want to transition to using BLE and have the devices spend much of their time in a sleep mode, updating a sensor value every 10-30 minutes. Hardware restrictions caused our submission for this hackathon to be built with standard Bluetooth protocols.