The iCare Bot is a low-cost monitoring system for people with an increased need for care. We do so because existing monitoring solutions for this group of people are either expensive, extremely complex to handle by laypersons or not expandable to the needs of family members and caregivers. The iCare Bot is based on a Raspberry Pi computer which can easily be extended with specific onboard accessories and any other standard, off-the-shelf component (e.g. web cams, motion sensors, navigation modules, displays etc.).
For motion detection we use a battery-operated wireless sensor with an ultra-low power consumption and which can be placed anywhere in the room of the elderly person. This sensor can be programmed individually, for example, for having a scheduled activation/deactivation. This allows us to trigger alert messages for different use cases, such as sending a message to family members and caregivers in case there is no activity in the morning or when an elderly person leaves home during the night. To get a kind of “proof” that this really happened, we use a web cam—costing around $20—which shoots a photo or short video triggered by a sensor event or upon request.
As user interface for displaying alert messages in various formats, we use the cloud-based instant messaging service Telegram Messenger. We opted for this solution as it allows for end-to-end encrypted messaging, is open-source, does not restrict the size of messages runs on most common platforms (i.e. PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Ubuntu Touch), and does not incur any costs for usage. We tested our remote monitoring solution in a laboratory environment and we are currently evaluating it in the field with elderly people and homecare institutions.