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An Internet-of-Things (IoT) System Development and Implementation for Bathroom Safety Enhancement

ABSTRACT

Statistics show that a bathroom is one of the most hazardous places especially for older people. Older people typically have greater difficulties with mobility and balance, making them more vulnerable to fall and slip injuries in a bathroom and causing serious health issues related to short and long-term well-being. Various components in a bathroom including shower, tub, floor, and toilet have been re-designed, and independently upgraded their ergonomics and safety aspects; however, the number of bathroom injuries remains consistently high in general.

Internet-of-Things (IoT) is a new concept applicable to almost everywhere and man-made objects. Wireless sensors detect abnormalities and send data through the network. A large amount of data can be collected from multiple IoT systems and it can be utilized for a big data analysis. The big data may reveal a hidden positive outcome beyond the initially intended purposes. A few commercial IoT applications such as wearable health monitoring and intelligent transportation systems are available. Nevertheless, An IoT application for a bathroom is not currently known. Unlike other applications, bathrooms have some unique aspects such as privacy and wet environment.

This paper presents a holistic conceptual approach of an Internet-of-Things (IoT) system development and implementation to enhance bathroom safety. The concept focuses on the application in a large nursing care facility as a pilot testing bed. Authors propose 1) sensor selection and application, 2) integration of a wireless sensor local network system, 3) design concept for IoT implementation, and 4) a big data analysis system model in this paper.

SENSORS FOR BATHROOM APPLICATIONS

Most electronic sensors measure electric resistance or energy occurred by physical and chemical changes. Electronic signals can be digitally processed in an on-board microcontroller or directly transmitted to other devices through short-range wireless networks. Many sensors are commercially available, but require signal calibration, hardware modification to fit to existing bathroom objects, and configuration to connect to sensor communication networks. Below is a list of commercially available sensors.

SENSOR NETWORK AND IOT APPLICATION

Figure 2. Sensor Controller, Algorithm, and IoT Network Flow Diagram

Figure 2. Sensor Controller, Algorithm, and IoT Network Flow Diagram

Figure 2 illustrates a sensor network integrating multiple and heterogeneous (digital and analogue) sensor data through a short-range network within a bathroom. The short-range network transmits data to a larger network through a gateway or hub. Short-range networks are then integrated through multiple gateways and connected to a virtual cloud serving as a database server.

Figure 3. Pilot test bed design and installation layout

Figure 3. Pilot test bed design and installation layout

The main server is a core intelligent computer used to efficiently process and analyze large sensor data, and store the results for research and technology development of comprehensive and intelligent processing, management, display, and empirical evidence. Here we develop methods and algorithms that comprehensively handle a variety of sensor events, knowledge database construction, implement a decision-support expert system, and support the work of the administrator through the administrator interface. To effectively classify, store, and handle diverse and continuous stream of sensor data, this study will use an open source Oliot EPCIS event-based sensor data processing middleware that shows excellent scalability and flexibility. If we are unable to intelligently and smartly process, display, and manage the stream data that are collected from a variety of sensors, it will only add confusion.

IOT TOILET TEST

Figure 6. The outputs of the sensors visualized using Power Bi

Figure 6. The outputs of the sensors visualized using Power Bi

Data are collected from the analog sensors by a Wi-Fi enabled microcontroller (Arduino Yun) and algorithms were devised to act on appropriate events. For example, if a “lights on” event is triggered from a low light level in the bathroom, the toilet interior lighting is powered on. The real-time data obtained from sensors are sent via Wi-Fi to a service called Temboo, which will pass them to Microsoft Azure’s SQL database as Yun cannot communicate directly with Azure. Azure functions as a data storehouse for the big data created by many nodes. For data visualization, Microsoft Power Bi polls the SQL database and graphically displays the sensor data in real-time as shown in Figure 6.

CONCLUSION

Information technology advances in the development of IoT and big data toward various aspects of human activities. Bathrooms are one of the most dangerous places especially for older people. The IoT and big data concept introduced in this paper proposes four objectives: 1) sensor selection and application, 2) integration of a wireless sensor local area network system, 3) design concept for IoT implementation, and 4) a big data analysis system model. Sensor study reveals that off-the-shelf sensors are available for IoT applications, but many of them require hardware modification and software configuration to integrate into small range network systems.

Several small range wireless sensor network protocols are available and are able to connect to larger network systems such as Internet through various levels and types of hubs/gateways. The study proposes a design concept for a pilot test and big data system. Various software applications and open source platforms are reviewed and will be tested to consist of large-scale big data, which is based on the data acquired from sensors detecting bathroom activities. As an example, a test was conducted using an IoT application in a toilet. Several sensors including pressure sensors are tested to verify the concept in a small-scale example.

Potential impact of this study is not only to timely inform special events but also to reduce hazardous conditions in bathroom environment and probability of severe implication from bathroom injuries especially for older people. Moreover, this study demonstrates tremendous potential of IoT and big data applications for improving user sustainability in various aspects.

Source: Arizona State University
Authors: Dan D. Kooa | John J. Leea | Aleksei Sebastiania | Jonghoon Kimb

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