Create Scholarship Entry: Hearing Impaired Answered
My project is designed to solve a personal problem. One I'm sure others struggle with. I am hard of hearing.
My proposed project is for the iRobot to find me and tell me, via an LCD screen or similar visual, that the phone or doorbell is ringing. In order to keep the search path short, to start, in my house I'm thinking about using either virtual wall, which I can't afford, or a line down the hallway to the bed.
When something is out of focus you can frequently stare at it until it comes into focus or you can ask someone what the sign says. With hearing loss you eventually realize you don't know you didn't hear something because people start yelling at you for ignoring them. Sound is fleeting. Usually only lasts a fraction of a second. I hear less that half of what most people hear. Without my hearing aids I can only hear the noisiest birds if they are about 20 feet or less from me. I can only hear my phone ring if I am within 15 feet of it and I have the volume all the way up. To talk on the phone, I have one that is relatively new and have the volume all the way up. Those 90db alarms, I need to be within 5 feet of them to hear them. The smoke alarm in the kitchen, I can hear it but it isn't going to wake me. A fire in the kitchen isn't going to trigger the alarm in the bedroom soon enough. It probably won't be loud enough to wake me, anyway.
My house didn't have a doorbell when I moved in and I can't hear someone knock unless I have my hearing aids on and am within 10 feet of the door. After missing numerous UPS deliveries I installed a wireless doorbell and I carry the receiver, pager style, with me all day when I am expecting a delivery. And I have even missed UPS with that. If the water is running, the TV or radio is on, it is even more likely that I will not hear the phone or doorbell. If I'm in the bathroom even with the door open I don't have any idea what is happening on the other side of the doorway.
A security system with cameras and sensors and a DVR would be ideal. But not in my budget. It might help me with my thieving neighbors.
I have thought about getting a dog to help me but I have three rabbits and cannot afford another pet on my disability income. That would probably be a good solution. I own my own home, ok the bank owns it and lets me live here, but if I have to move into a rental most landlords do not allow pets. A robot would not be an issue.
If I had a robot that could find me and let me know what is going on in my house it would be very useful. People do not wear hearing aids to bed. I don't usually wear my hearing aids at home to save on batteries. And because the feedback drives me crazy. I just turn the TV or radio up REALLY, REALLY LOUD. Sorry neighbors, it's not my intent to be annoying.
I custom built the computer I am using. I have some experience programming simple robots such as the Parallax Boe-Bot. Most recently I built the miniPOV and mintyBoost from AdaFruit. I have 6 years experience as UNIX sysadmin and configuration management. I also have basic hardware and soldering experience.
If I have enough time I would like to have it bring me the phone and have a microphone and speaker to talk to the person at the door. I would definitely like to add smoke and co2 detection but I noticed there are quite a few people taking that on and so I will leave that to the end. Maybe teach it to do a little dance, sing a little song, get down tonite. I could wrap it in mirrors, turn it into a floor disco ball. A different dance and sounds for each alert.
A robot that could notify me of doorbell and phone events would make my life easier. I'd be inclined to sleep with it. If it could help clean up after the rabbits and ride herd on them I might worship it. Rosie the Robot, Rabbit Wrangler and goddess. If it could also keep me safe from intruders, fires, gas leaks and such. Heck I'll bear it's child! Shall I name it Proteus? or Alfred? Have you ever seen the movie Demon Seed? Classic.
I took my time writing up my proposal to do some research and make sure I have the necessary skills and resources to accomplish this task. They warned us in the challenge. I also wanted to have something unique, although there can be many approaches to solving the same problem. If I do win one of the scholarships I will be interested in your suggestions about how to solve this project.