My Heartfelt Idea: Looking After Elders
Most churches have service ministries, like handy people to fix issues inside and outside a home. Fall season means leaf raking and stick pickup; so many leaves and sticks! And what about elders who are hungry? Churches have food ministries too. It also doesn't have to be church-based services; any service can be connected.
It's time to connect the dots using some awesome hardware and cool IoT technology!
Non-emergency Service Buttons
Adafruit makes inspiring hardware and this little NeoKey 1x4 button pad was the spark of my idea!
Whether you call it I2C or Qwiic or Stemma QT or QW/ST or SCSI (just kidding sort-of) 🌼 daisy 🌼 chains 🌼 are 🌼 great! And solderless too!
Make Your Own Photo Keycaps
My Prototype Keycaps
Prayer Visit Button (U+1F64F)
Food Visit Button (U+1F35E)
Handy Visit Button (U+1F4A1)
Lawn Visit Button (U+1F342)
The Make or Break Requirement
Elders don't have Wi-fi networks.
My device requires a network and I can't assume elders have any form of wireless network. I could go big and build my own LoRa municipal network, but I don't really want to sink time into that, if I don't have to. How about going small instead?
Requirement Exceeded: Blues LTE Notecard
When you buy a Blues LTE Notecard, you receive enough built-in, prepaid LTE connectivity and cloud integration credits to probably last for the entire lifetime of your device, especially a very low-volume communications device like mine.
Blues Notecard Carrier Boards (Notecarriers)
Blues Notecarrier-B above is pure simplicity with its QT connectedness; I'm eyeballing it for future smaller sized device implementations.
SparkFun Electronics also carries the Blues MicroMod Starter Kit which gives devs their choice of microprocessor too. It's a veritable buffet of electronics choices pictured below!
Open Hardware Moment
I would be remiss if I didn't spotlight Blues' open hardware repository, which electronics wizards can (and have) remixed into new, optimal devices to solve specific problems and use cases. I would love to learn how to craft my own PCBs... I think I can! I think I can! 🚂
MicroPython and CircuitPython
I intended the device to be powered by MicroPython / CircuitPython as a professional challenge; this code can be reused to serve as the foundation for many "service button" ideas swimming around in my head. 🐬 🧠
Elder Device Operation
Elder presses any given service button and a JSON message is sent from the device over LTE to Blues Notehub.io then sent to Twilio's SMS API to send alerts to defined service teams.
Device Asks: Where Am I?
Blues LTE Notecard has built-in cellular triangulation which is totally awesome, but my device required an higher level of precision to enable door-to-door mapping for service teams. I use the GPS coordinates to generate a very precise Google Maps SMSed to services teams.
FYI: There is code to make the NeoKey's buttons turn red when there's not a GPS fix. I do recommend the device being placed closer to a window than not, but big things come in tiny packages... I've been pleasantly surprised at getting double-digit satellite connections while being fully inside a home or building.
This project is focused on non-emergency services, but with a high precision GPS on-board, it does become feasible to connect the device to an emergency help service like Noonlight's API. It also becomes possible to get transportation services for elder trips to the doctor or food deliveries using Uber's API.Read more »