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Friday, September 11, 2009

PIC32 Design Challenge Entry


Intelligent Helper for The old and Aged peopLe

My PIC32 Homepage - With Details of the Design
Phase 3 Introduction Video |Phase 3 Details Video |Project Picture| Menue Pictures


This project is a helping device intend to be used by the Old & Aged people. The primary features of this device are listed below:
1. Panic Button: Life Saver
In certain health situations the aged people may not be able to speak or move. This device will have an Accelerometer to detect any such situation and send data to near and dears on their mobile & start an audio alert with voice to inform the passersby to help them. There would also be a PANIC button which would help them in case they are in some difficult situation.
2. Direction Finding & Audio-Visual indication of Fixed Map Location:
This would help the aged people when they forget their way and want to come back to home. This device would give then a relative distance from the home and also a beep which would get intensified as they near the house.
3. Medicine Reminder and Scheduler – up to 25 Medicines:
Many times the aged people would forget to take medicines. And also sometimes forget to keep a stock of the medicines before they finish. So this device would be able to remind, schedule and track the Medicine delivery.
4. Power Consumption: Ultra long Life
This device would be acting as a life saver device so it requires being ultra reliable. Hence this puts extreme constrains on the device power consumption. Also for reliability some backup battery is needed. The design would contain dual battery function. The basic battery would be a 9V cell and the backup battery would be CR2032, along with an additional battery for the GSM Function. This insures that the device critical functions keep running even if the main battery runs out.
5. Programmable Infrared Remote:(IN FUTURE)
It might be a difficult task for the aged people to again and again getup to fetch remotes for different applications such as TV, House Lighting, DVD etc. So this device would be able to help them in this. The device would be able to record the IR remote signals and map to the key pad or a small menu in the Display.
6. Display: TFT Color Display
The device will have a sufficiently big display of 8cm x 6cm to write bigger fonts since the aged people have hard time reading the Text in smaller fonts. This will also help to keep the power consumption low. To help the reading there will be a ambient light sensitive back ground lighting of the display.
Many More Useful features like these can be added and make the device a platform for Medical and Health applications.
This project is intents to satisfy in the closest of the details as explain in the Introduction. There might be small imperfections which can be taken as a future scope of development. Keeping this in mind we progress to the design blocks which are required to complete the basic Framework for the foundation of our concept. To have an ease of design and clarity of purpose the basic blocks can be divided into a set of stimuli and responses (Input and Outputs). Listed are the major interface blocks:
1. Buttons
These would serve as the primary input method from the user. There would be a set of functions that require to be controlled using these interfaces. Listed are various points where the following would be used:
o Reset Primary Control: Used to reset the System to initial State in case some wrong configuration has occurred. This would be fail safe switch kept to erase all data and return system to the First position as a New unit
Net Qty.: 1(Optional)
o User Button: This would be used as an alternative in case the Touch screen buttons are not being used.
Net Qty.: 4
o Panic Button: This would help the user to inform in case of emergencies. Also there would be a similar button on the screen.
Net Qty.: 1
2. Touch Screen
This would be a direct touch sensitive interface for the User. This would be helpful when the user is not having enough strength to press the Buttons. It would be place directly on to the display so that the Button text can be altered easily.
3. Accelerometer
This is a critical part of the system since it would be used in multiple ways to render many functions. Listed are a few of its uses:
o Free Fall detection: This would help to protect the device itself and the other sensitive parts. The device would also make sure that the free fall is not the user having a medical condition and falling down on the ground.
o Detection for direction of Motion of the body of user: This would be helpful to get the statistics for the daily walking and the direction of the movement to plot a trace path.
4. IR Receiver(IN FUTURE)
It would serve to record the IR signals and play them back so that the required button press can be imitated
5. GPS Receiver
This would help to know the location of the device precisely so that the Zero or Home point setting and the location of the User can be determined. It would also be helpful to get the co-ordinates of the user in case of the Panic Situation. So that the nearest hospital can attend to.
1. TFT Screen
This is the Primary output to the User with rich interface to be easy to use. It basically consists of a TFT Screen and a Touch Panel which is used for input. Since the button can be drawn on the Screen it makes easy for the User to identify the options and use them.
2. Speaker
The System contains a Speaker with an amplifier which helps to generate Speech and serve a emergency vocal alarm in case the user is unable to speak or move.
3. GSM Gateway
This would be used in the system to send out SMS to the Hospital and the Family members in case of emergency.
This would be used to play back the coded sequences for various IR Switches that are recorded.
microSD Card
The main storage for the System would be used for multiple purposes. Listed are a few of the uses for this project:
o Store Medicine information and the related schedules
o Store the Audio Playback for the System
o Store calibration and reference data for the Accelerometer
o Store IR codes for future use
o Graphic Data for the System display unit
o GPS location and tracking for Home seek function


Design Quality Vectors
This project demonstrates an innovative and energy efficient way to help our beloved elderly folks. LATHI makes intelligent use of Accelerometer sensor to detect the health conditions. The conventional technology of Touch Screens is used in a new technique to distinguish between a normal finger touch and a Hand using the same on-chip peripherals. The design employs distinct power saving features to make the battery life longer.

The primary complexity of this design comes from the requirement of Power Saving and Extensive functionality. The design employs innovative technique of Frequency reduction to achieve lower power consumption. This technique require all the peripherals of the chip to be reconfigured at runtime to have all the function working even when the frequency changes. The design also incorporates FreeRTOS that helps in providing faster scheduling of critical tasks, ease for upgrades and software extendibility. The peripherals interface design in software requires Block drivers, Peripheral semaphores and Message based interface. This puts constrains in the memory usage and the synchronization between the functions. Due to limitations on the number of available peripherals inside the chip the sharing of the resources becomes mandatory to render the functionality requirements. This makes the design challenging for incorporating all the required features.

This device serves a multitude of features under the single unit. This device has a simple to operate interface which anybody can be acquainted as soon as they start operating the device. This device provides Health monitor features for the Elderly. This also helps them to operate day to day devices which might be difficult without supervision. The medicines that are hard to get would be reminded to them before they finish. This solves one of the common problems of people either forgetting to take the medicine or unable to take it since it’s finished.

This design makes use of many unique techniques to deliver an efficient Power to functionality benefits. LATHI uses many tricks to make its power consumption low and also manages the distribution. There two main procedures that LATHI employs to achieve this – Frequency switching and distributed power management. Since this design has a life safety function so in the even of power loss on the primary battery should not affect. This is done by the use of different batteries for the life critical functions and back battery for the chip. Another aspect of design efficiency is use of accelerometer as a gyroscope to detect the heath condition of the person with out attaching any additional equipment.

o First Blinky Program(8-Aug-2008)
o The Change Notice Interrupt for Buttons(9-Aug-2008)
o ADC controling the Light Intensity Video(11-Aug-2008)
o Trouble with SD Card(14-Aug-2008)
o Analog 3-Axis Accelerometer Interface(17-Aug-2008)
o PCM Audio Reproduction(21-Aug-2008)
o TFT LCD Interface(07-Sept-2008)
o Final Phase II Video
o GSM Demo(SMS Sending)
o PH3 Quick Update(24-Jan-2009)
o Phase 3 Introduction Video
o Phase 3 Details Video

o Updated Hardware Block Diagram
o Updated Software Block Diagram
o Project Picture
o LM386 Audio Driver
o PIC32MX3XX-PinFunctions
o PIC32MX3XXL-IO Functions Spread Sheet
o Menue Pictures

This project is inspired from a real life incident that occurred with my Grandfather in late 1989 when I was a kid. All these are the requirements that I felt necessary since the time I realized them from my own Grandfather. I was small and was not capable enough to help him in those days.
But today I have a chance to revive and make a better situation for others. So that the things that happened to my Grandfather doesn’t repeat with someone else.

Thanks for your Support,
Warm Regards,


  1. Aah, I remember seeing this on display at IIT-Delhi.

  2. Yes you are right.

    Warm Regards,

  3. Yes you are right.

    Warm Regards,