Nominet has launched a free Internet of Things (IoT) solution to help people with disabilities.
The IoT prototype ‘Pips’ uses smart sensors to help sufferers build and follow a daily routine. For example, Pips buttons can be placed around the home to remind those with cognitive or sensory impairments to take their medication or to brush their teeth.
Developed by Nominet’s R&D team and built around a microcontroller using Bluetooth, the cusomisable buttons offer a sequence of audio and visual reminders to guide users to each task.
Once a button has been pressed, it turns off, then activating the next Pip in the sequence. It could be, for example, that having pressed the button to feed the cat, the user is then directed to take their medication.
Related: NHS to launch Internet of Things innovation testbeds
IoT driving social improvements
The Pips system can also alert care providers via email or text message if any part of the routine isn’t completed.
Nominet’s R&D team has been working to develop Pips as a useful toy and tool for visually impaired children.
It has tested a prototype with the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB). In addition, it has spoken to professionals and support groups – from senior people within the NHS to occupational therapists and charities – to understand how Pips might help dementia sufferers.
As of today, Nominet is making the code and instructions for building Pips publicly available and open-source. This means that students, researchers and inventors can build and experiment with their own Pips devices. For the software to be able to run, each Pips device must be connected to a gateway device (a laptop or Raspberry Pi).
David Simpson, ?senior researcher of R&D at ?Nominet said:
“Our team has been exploring spaces where we think our Internet of Things (IoT) technologies might be relevant and are particularly interested in projects that have the potential to deliver social or economic benefits, so health tech projects like this are a win-win in this context.
“We’re proud to have developed this Pips system, have seen how it could help those with visual impairment, and want to encourage others such as medical researchers to investigate how it might be used in other ways and more widely. For example, to help those who suffer from dementia or memory loss – the potential is enormous.
“This is why we are making the Pips code publically available for free, together with a shopping list of components and instructions to help others build the devices themselves.”
Related: Wearables emerge for cognitive health monitoring
Nominet working with RLSB
Tom Pey, CEO, Royal London Society for Blind People added:
“There are over 35,000 blind and partially sighted children and young people in the UK. Development in early years is crucial for all children, and play is a huge part of that.
“Sadly, 40 percent of blind children do not have a neighbourhood friend to play with. Creating suitable toys that help vision impaired children play and interact with other children is key for their development. Nominet’s technical expertise and willingness to share the Pips code publically will hopefully encourage others to develop more solutions to overcome this current block in blind children’s development.”
Nominet is increasingly active in the IoT space. The firm, the official registry for .UK domain names, is working with the Flood Network’s early flood warning maps and has developed a set of interoperable tools to help developers working on IoT projects.
It is also involved in smart parking projects around the UK, and recently turned BBC’s Micro.bit into an IoT device.
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