A few years ago, a close friend of ours messaged us asking to keep an eye out for his grandmother that wandered out of his house. As a sufferer of dementia, she would unpredictably leave the family house, leaving friends and family worried and unable to contact her. After years of hearing about the situations that arose, and the worry that our friend and his family went through, we decided to build an application that would support both the people suffering from dementia, and their care takers. By combining commonplace technology with our vision of collaborative care, we're so very happy and proud to present: PpoBO.
What it does
PpoBO first creates a secure connection between a care receiver and the care taker(s). The care taker designates a geofence around a location that the care receiver resides in. If the care receiver ever exits the designated area, an automatic text message is sent to all of the care receiver's trusted care takers. Additionally, there is a panic button on the care receiver side that sends out the same text message and also provides quick access to calling various emergency services at the touch of a button. The care taker can view alerts with timestamps from their cared ones, including everytime the panic button is pressed, when the cared one leaves the geofence, or re-enters the geofence.
How we built it
PpoBO is built with: Google Cloud, Firebase, Google Maps API, Java, and Kotlin. Authentication is handled by Firebase. Storage is handled by Firebase. Cloud infrastructure is handled by Google Cloud. Geofencing is handled by Google Maps API. Application is developed with Android Studio/Java/Kotlin. Knowledge of dementia/wandering/alzheimer's/care taker difficulties were researched via websites provided below.
We all naturally specialized into the tools that we wanted to explore, but inevitably all did our fair share of full-stack development.
Challenges we ran into
Half of our team was new to Android development and one of the frameworks we used originally for geofencing had incorrect documentation. However, we worked together to traverse these obstacles, and after lots of teaching and learning while doing, and switching frameworks, we ran through these challenges.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're very proud that we were able to use technology to directly benefit a community that is close to us. For development pride: Half of our team developing Android for the first time! Worked with entirely new technology such as Google Maps API geofencing Proud of our intuitive and foolproof UI for care-receivers
What we learned
We learned a lot about the difficulties in caring for someone who suffers from dementia and/or related diseases. We spent lots of our time researching alongside developing to ensure that we created something that targeted the issue as closely as possible. We used what we learned about dementia care, dementia statistics, and the issue of wandering to develop technology accordingly. We also learned that Kotlin is hard
What's next for PpoBO
We plan on activating background location updates, a live location map for the care takers if the geofence is triggered, statistics/analytics for the care takers to view, and more resources for help.
We as a team encourage you to read more about the condition, and how to help out. Here are some readings that we consulted and think are a great place to start:
https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/stages-behaviors/wandering https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/10_signs https://alzheimer.ca/en/bc/Living-with-dementia/Caring-for-someone/Understanding-symptoms/Wandering https://www.alzstore.com/alzheimers-dementia-wandering-s/1828.htm
Furthermore, we strongly encourage those who are able and willing to donate to further research in the field: https://alzheimer.ca/en/Home/Get-involved/Ways-to-donate