The intelligent control systems

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Chapter 1

Introduction

The Introduction about what is the project about, including the problem statement and the scope of the project that will be discussed in this research.

1.1. Project Description

One way in reaching successful aging is the capability of having a good health and to avoid disease. Unfortunately, there are a large percentage of the elderly people that are living with diseases and disabilities, especially for those who are living alone, far away from their children or not being 24-hours a day with the caregivers. “The terms elderly are usually applied to adults older than 60 years, when certain physiologic features become apparent” (Rossi, 2003). The elderly usually have lost their abilities in walk properly, using their arms accurately such as opening a door, eating or even to access to computer. In recent years, researchers have noted the problem of self-sufficiency especially for the elderly and it has attract attention in finding new solutions that can guarantee a better life and easy living environment for the elderly.

The intelligent control systems which then develop into smart homes or smart environment system or automated homes or intelligent building now can be proposed and would have a major improvement along with the developing technology. A definition of smart home can be described as “A dwelling incorporating a communications network that connects the key electrical appliances and services, and allows them to be remotely controlled, monitored or accessed.” (King, September 2003) or also can be define “A smart home is a home where the systems (security, lighting, sensors, heating and air-conditioning, audio-video etc.) are interconnected to allow the automatic or remote control of the home to save energy, improve comfort, safety and or convenience for the homeowner.” ("What is Home Automotion?," 13 June 2008). The smart home system will have computerized applications that synthesize data from sensors implied in the applications and send it to a central monitoring system. This smart home can simplify the interaction between the elderly and their environment while doing the necessary everyday tasks. The goal of this research is to find the solution or design or the way out for having a smart home system for the elderly which provide easiness of living. The project will have to implement a prototype of a system that capable in satisfying the needs of general tasks of a certain group of people. The system can be used everywhere, such as houses, hospitals, schools, restaurants, and so on. A smart home system will allow the tenants; especially the elderly tenants to have control of many smart features of their house. Those smart features include alarm, motion detection sensor, automatic blinds, window, smart bed detection and other smart features that can be implemented inside and surrounding the house environment that can make the elderly and the other tenants have an easy life, safer and better living. By establish a system that can monitor user or the elderly tenants to ensure their safety, and alert caregivers, the children and physicians or other people to stand by and offering help when needed, a solution for the problems that elderly tend to face can be solved.

1.2. Project Objectives

  • Find out the real needs of smart home for the elderly
  • Based on the findings, design or find a solution in order to find the way out for having a smart home system for the elderly
  • Research in purpose of finding the prototypes that will be used inside the house
  • Finding the right system design that can integrate with the developing and diverse technologies into a working system
  • Present the solutions in a user friendly interface that gives user the idea of what is a smart home and the usage of it

1.3. Problem Statements

One way in reaching successful aging is the capability of having a good health and to avoid disease, unfortunately there are a large percentage of the elderly people that are living with diseases and disabilities, especially for those who are living alone, far away from their children or not being 24-hours a day with the caregivers. Due to the aging, there are some basic activities that the elderly find it difficult to do alone at home, whether it is just to simply control the lighting at home, to control the room temperature, watering the plants, or to lock and unlock the doors and windows. Their incapability of remembering those simple activities might be reduced because of aging; someone can just easily go sleep without checking whether all the doors and windows are locked or the lights inside the house on or off, and to protect themselves from outsider.

The idea of having a smart home for the elderly might solve this problem but other difficulties might also occur. The smart home is controlled by one central remote control that has all the adjustment or settings for the entire house and system. Fighting aging means also fighting the ability of not loosing memory easily, like many elderly have, they might forgot where they last put their remote control, or they might lose the remote control somewhere around the house and when this issue occur, the function of smart home that supposed to provide ease of everything cannot be maximized for the elderly. Security facilities are the most important thing inside the smart home for the elderly. Whether it is means by secure from attack from intruders outside the house, it is also means by protecting the elderly from accidents that might happens inside the house caused by themselves. By having the entire control of the remote controller, it will make the elderly have all the maximized functions of the smart home, including the security. The problem is, once they lost the remote control or when it is broken, the security enabled inside and surrounding the house environment cannot be applied to its fullest function.

1.4. Project Scope and Constraints

Having smart home is very useful and helping, especially for the elderly. It provides better and easy living, more security inside and outside the house, but the problems also occur on the elderly sides. By looking at some disadvantages one might have in order to maximized the function of smart home for the elderly, this project will subjected the field of research to find a solution in designing a user friendly interface that will gives an idea about what a smart home is and the usage of it for the elderly.

Chapter 2

Background and Literature Review

The background and literature review section presents the research and findings about the facts and existing systems which is similar with this study

2.1. Background

2.1.1. The Elderly

The lifespan of humans being can be classified based on their age range, because biological changes are slow moving and vary from person to person. According to unstats.un.org (1982), the age classification can be grouped into six broad populations; the infant (under 1 year old), youth (age 1-14 years old), young adulthood (age 15-24 years old), middle adulthood (age 25-44 years old), older adulthood (age 45-64 years old), and late adulthood or retirement age or the elderly (above 65 years old). By observing this age classification, we can know their physical features, their abilities, and their capability of doing activities, especially in daily life. The focus of this research is about the elderly. Who are the elderly? The elderly are people, according to the age classification, who aged above 65 years old and has some physical changes and mentality changes.

The aging progress can slow one's movement, way of thinking, and limit their activities. The elderly seems to be having more problems due to decreasing of some basic abilities in running the basic activities in their daily life. In every developing, developed, and industrialized nations, aging has been a phenomenon of population trends as the result of successful plan to lower fertility level and increase the longevity in those overpopulated countries. The challenges to plan, prepare, provide a better life for the elderly have been the concern of many nations, institutions, and organizations. The demand of the needs of the elderly has been variously increasing.

To provide a better living for the elderly, find out first what their common problems are, and what things they need to overcome their problems are. The problems that the elderly commonly faced are the health problem, the financial problems, and the housing problems. The elderly are mostly suffered from common aging health problems like arthritis and rheumatism, eye disorders, and hearing disabilities. “The elderly are more likely to suffer from health problems like arthritis and rheumatism, eye disorders and hearing disabilities. They are more prone to suffer due to hypothermia (low body heat), especially during winter. They may even be suffering from psychiatric problems such as Senile Dementia (Alzheimer's disease), which is a psychiatric illness that affects the brain.” (Lee, 2007). The retired elderly may have their own income and thus they can afford themselves the necessaries they needed while others have their relatives or families to pay for their livings. The assisted living is not as expensive as what they seem, after a person, an elderly, decided to at some point they need assistance, they move into a facility that is usually permanent. With the former house sold, the most expenses associated with assisted living can be covered. Thus, they need a house that will hold together all their needs. For the housing, they need a sheltered housing with furniture, system, and equipment that are designed to meet their needs, the house must provide them freedom and privacy and at the same time it also support the necessities during emergency or panic situation. The solution for supporting the kind of house they need is the smart home system.

2.1.2. Smart home system

An elderly must be fitted well in the house he is living, though he is an adult, he has some weaknesses that can go worse if the house he is living is not safe. First of all, for the housing needs, we must check the entire house, is it safe enough for elderly to live? The basic standards a home have must be adjusted and well designed to meet the elderly needs and can covered the weaknesses. There are some parts of the house that need strong attention in order to meet the basics safety of living for the elderly, these are some parts of the house that need to be examine and how to overcome the problems. There is a list about what are the area in the house that needs to be check for the safety for the elderly purpose, according to aging-parents-and-elder-care.com (2009), these are some parts of the house that needs to be checked:

All areas at home

All areas at home must be checked for the electrical and telephone cords, rugs, telephone areas, smoke detectors, electrical outlets and switches, lightings, and emergency exit plan. The electrical outlets and switches can be checked by touch them, if they are unusually hot or warm, it may indicate an unsafe wiring condition. All the electrical and phone cords must be analyzed if they are placed out across walkway, it can cause someone to trip and fall down, falling down is one of the things that elderly must not experienced. The attached cords to the walls or floor or baseboards must be taped, not with nails or staples cause nails and staples can damage cords, presenting fire and shock hazards. For the elderly it is very resistant to have a bone fractures or some other serious injuries if they fallen down, to reduce this possibility, use the rugs and runners that are slip resistant and remove all that are not slip resistant or tend to make someone slip or trip. The hearing difficulties is one of the problems that elderly may have, so to avoid many unanswered phone call, flashing lights that will flash along with the rings of the phone may help to overcome this issue and also place some emergency numbers near the phone is important so the elderly can seek help easily when needed, the same goes for the doorbell, the doorbell with flashing lights can help indicate the elderly to know there's someone at the door. Placing at least one smoke detector on each floor near the bedrooms is one of the basic first fire safe steps. Plan an emergency exit in case if there's fire inside the house and practice the steps to safe themselves in case there's fire when the elderly is home alone so he will not forget how to do it.

Kitchen

There are some important parts in the kitchen that need to be pay attention, the range are of the fire, all electrical cords, lighting, stool, rugs and telephone area. Check if the towels, curtains and any other materials that may catch fire are located far from the range. All electrical and appliance cords should be located not near the sink and range areas because those cords can cause shock or electrocution if they have contact with the water. The lighting in the kitchen must be in adequate portion, less lighting can contribute cuts or burns. All outdated food in the fridge must throw out to avoid food poisoning.

Bathroom

Bathroom areas also have important features that need serious attention such as bathtub and shower areas, water temperature, rugs and mats, lighting, and electrical appliances. The bathtub and shower place should be equipped with grab bars and non-skid mats, or abrasive strips, or surfaces that are not slippery to avoid having wet soapy tiles or porcelain surfaces that might cause falls. The lighting switch should better be placed near the entrance door so the elderly does not need to walk through dark to find the switches. Beware of the small electrical appliances such as hair dryers, shavers, curling iron, etc that are plugged in when not in use can cause a lethal shock if it falls into water in sink or bathtub.

Bedroom

Rearrange the furniture if the light switch is not located near the bed. Elderly tend to hit things or fall down in the dark of night when they are awake and want to do something because they have to walk far from bed in the dark to find the switch first, also put a flashlight in the range of the bed to make it easier to grab in case if the electricity is down.

Steps, stairs, and walkways

Make sure there is no slippery surface; the lighting also needs to be adjusted during day and night because one might fall if there is not enough lighting to walk

Those are simple things that should be well aware in terms of safety for the elderly. Designing smart homes for older people should be done by meeting the needs and desires of the occupants at home, the care givers as well as a number of other stake holders. Often, the technological aspects are implemented minimal due to the cost factors and other circumstances. “A smart home or building is a home or building, usually a new one, that is equipped with special structured wiring to enable occupants to remotely control or program an array of automated home electronic devices by entering a single command.” (Redriksson, 17 August 2005). The terms smartness here is derived from the installation, implementation and configuration or devices and equipments that are able to be programmed to do some undertake tasks. A number of electrical devices at home could be controlled and automated to work through a control unit or automatically in a way which determined by the user or programmer. The simplest example of a task could be turn on the light by using a remote control, which means the lights will be activated automatically by pressing the suitable button on a remote controller. Through suitable technology, the elderly can relate better to their environment and able to have better control over their home. By using this technology, it is possible to watch the activities of the tenants, especially the elderly tenants, to provide alerts to specific agents or caregiver or other external helper if there is any case of emergency. These automatic devices or robotic devices can be described as domotic systems. “Domotics is the combination of technology and services for improved living in the areas of safety, comfort and technical management” ("Domotics," 2009). The tenants do not have to worry about some things that normally forgotten, especially for the elderly because everything will be done automatically, but also can be adjusted to be done manually or by hand. It is more like tools to help people.

2.2. Material Research

2.2.1. Smart Home System Prototypes

The smart home system consists of several elements and prototype that connected to a main network to be a possible working system that can control the entire house. A universal remote control with multifunction buttons can be used to control several tasks in the same time and to control the work flow inside and outside the house environments. In order to make this possibly happen, a system that constructed by several devices or prototypes is needed. Those prototypes will then assemble smart home features that are highly technology and automatic system. The house appliances and smart devices will connect to each other through a well defined network system which will unite the system inside and outside the house.

“In a schematic way, a smart home can be described by a house which is equipped with smart objects, a home network make it possible to transport information between objects and a residential gateway to connect the smart home to the outside Internet world. Smart objects make it possible to interact with inhabitants or to observe them.” (D. M. Vincent Ricquebourg, David Durand, Bruno Marhic, Laurent Delahoche, Christophe Loge, 2006). There are some smart objects standards that smart home devices usually used to design the house, most of these are used within the security sectors which are able to be linked to each other and are able to have some communication within each other through wire such as optical fiber, cable (coaxial and twisted pair) and power line or wireless such as radio frequency (Bluetooth, GPRS, Wi-Fi, and UTMS) and infra red.

A research by Guy Dewsbury about Smart homes devices and features presented on the website smartthinking.ukideas.com (2 May 2008), says that following are the main devices or prototypes that are used commonly in a smart home:

  1. Actuator
  2. Actuator is another name for a motor. It is a mechanical device that used to move or control a mechanism or a system which takes energy that usually created by air, electricity or liquids and converts them into some kind of motion. Some examples of this mechanism are plasma actuators, pneumatic actuators, electric actuators, motors, hydraulic cylinders, and linear actuators.

  3. Assistive technology
  4. Assistive technology can be describe in generic term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities or limitations to do some task they are unable to do and increase the ease and safety with which task can be performed.

  5. Bus System (field bus)
  6. The conventional use set of wiring specifically installed for the purpose of transmitting data to and from the electronic devices within the house which usually runs in parallel to the conventional house wiring system

  7. Communication Protocols
  8. Communication protocols are the language used in the electronic system to recognize and pass information to each other. The protocols work in a way so it can define how the message will be sent, as well as how the response should be to confirm the information has been received

  9. Computer Peripherals
  10. The computer components that will support how the devices will work inside house that includes the basic requirement of a computer which are processor, monitor, keyboard and mouse. Additional components such as printers, scanners, external storage devices are also commonly used

  11. Dependability
  12. “Dependability is defined as that property of a computer system such that reliance can justifiably be placed on the service it delivers. The service delivered by a system is its behavior as it is perceptible by its user(s); a user is another system (human or physical) which interacts with the former” (Laprie, 1995)

  13. Electronic Assistive Technology (EAT)
  14. The EAT is any supportive electric devices technology that are commonly used by disabled people or for those who use wheelchair. The assistive technology ranges from wheelchair through the whole house system.

  15. Environmental Controls
  16. The environmental controls will allow the user to be in charge over simple devices in a room surrounds them, for example door opener and the functions are run through a control box or a remote controller to provide control in different tasks

  17. Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning
  18. Mechanisms that are used to control environmental conditions inside the home including the temperature inside the house, the air conditioning flows and it will also adjust the home temperature to follow the tenant's temperature.

  19. Information and Communication Technologies
  20. The information and communication technology is a package of technology that is related to the electronic storage, retrieval of the information given, and transmission of the information.

  21. Infrared
  22. “(¦in·frə¦red ′rād·ē′ā·shən) (electromagnetism) Electromagnetic radiation whose wavelengths lie in the range from 0.75 or 0.8 micrometer (the long-wavelength limit of visible red light) to 1000 micrometers (the shortest microwaves). ("Sci-Tech Dictionary: infrared radiation," 2009). The most common application that can be found at home that using infrared applications would be in a TV remote contol

  23. IR
  24. In the context of smart home, IR stands for Infrared Receiver, which can be found as in a form of a receiver that located on the wall or within a convenient location, or a controller that can sends Infrared signals to the receiver.

  25. Iris Recognition
  26. In order to have iris recognition system to work, a camera will be used to capture and analyze the patters of someone's iris with better level of certainty that can be applied to fingerprint

  27. Kbytes
  28. Kbytes can be defined as “Volume of data that can be transmitted by a specific medium each second.” (Dewsbury, 2 May 2008)

  29. Microprocessor
  30. According to wordnetweb.princeton.edu, a Microprocessor is an integrated circuit which categorized as a semiconductor chip that can perform a mass size of the processing and control a specific part of a device or system. It is functioned as the Central Processing Unit (CPU) of a microcomputer. For example, a disk drive that contains a microprocessor, the microprocessor will handle the internal functions of the drive

  31. Optical Fiber
  32. Electrical wiring optical fibers can be used to transmit data; the optical fibers will use light which will allows huge amount of data that can be transmitted through a relatively narrow cable. Example of the equipment using this medium of transmission is telephone and cable television, but the signal is converted into more conventional electrical signals in home or workplace

  33. PIR
  34. PIR or Passive Infra Red Sensor is the device which used to detect movement within a room that can trigger devices by detecting a presence

  35. Personal Data Assistance (PDA)
  36. PDA is a small computer with limitation functionality. PDAs are very useful for people who have memory problems and any other impairment. Nowadays PDAs are increasingly becoming more complex, resides the limitation of the functionality, and are able to use IR Bluetooth connectivity as well as an adapted Windows interface

  37. Plug and Play
  38. The plug and play equipment is designed to be fully compatible and recognizable for the network and software it is related to and it is able to connect and being configured by a specific system, even there is no input from the user or just a little input from the user.

  39. Power line
  40. The power line transmission will sends data signal at a different frequency for the use of normal electrical current transmission which then detected by devices that are connected to the circuit

  41. Pressure Pad
  42. The pressure pad will trigger an action if a person steps on it and a signal will be sent to control unit for security purposes

  43. Smart Cards
  44. Smart card is a normal size card, similar to credit card, but this card contains data about a person it belong to which can be retrieved by just simply insert them in an appropriate machine or remotely over just a short distance

  45. Telecare/ Telemedicine
  46. It is the delivery of response and medical services by the use of networks to remote links which can be measured in a far distance by remote diagnosis held a doctor from symptoms described then send them over a transmission using a detailed X-ray or photographic images by a medical opponent to hospital

  47. Teleworking
  48. Teleworking is a practice of conducting work remotely from workplace utilizing computer and communication systems. An example of teleworking that can be applied inside the smart home is that the home has the access and to modify data and information stored on servers that are located in main office from a distant location by using a conventional telephone line

  49. Twisted Pair
  50. Twisted pair is a kind of cabling where two thin wires are twisted together. This type of cabling usually used in telephone cabling in the home for transmission of sound and data.

  51. Graphic User Interface (GUI)
  52. GUI provides user the interface on a screen of the system as a feedback from of device from the intentions or instructions from the user.

  53. Warden Call systems
  54. The warden call systems is an emergency communication systems that applied by a warden or a guardian which can be used to send an emergency warnings or allow two way communication system between guardian and the person in emergency condition

Those are the commonly used prototype for the smart home system nowadays. A conference paper released by ieeemalaysia.org (2009) about smart home features describe about the prototype of the smart home that complete the whole system and features of the smart home which are:

  1. Energy management
  2. The energy management plays an important role in the smart home system; it controls the lighting and light level. The lighting system can be automatically turned on or off, thus it will save a lot of the electric bills. A sensor which consists of some input of schedule about when the lights need to be turned on or off is needed. The system will make sure that the lights are turned off when no needed, for example, in the night or when there is no one in the room. This simple automatic system can help to prevent the wasting of electricity. This called the programmable lights. A central unit or computer can help to make this work by simply set the timing when will the lights goes out. The lighting system is also useful in terms of security aspects. Owner can set lightings at seemingly random times during day and night; it will prevent criminals happen around the house and neighbors. Remote access lighting is also commonly used for a typical smart house; the best thing about it is that the owner can remotely control the lighting inside and outside house. For example, an elderly can forget to turn off kitchen lamp, and he or she remember when he or she is in the living room. A PDA will be used to turn the lights off; this could even be done outside the house, such as restaurant or at office

  3. Heating and air conditioning
  4. A certain heating and air conditioning system can be used in order to efficiently control the temperature in a smart home, saving tremendously cost of maintaining the temperature in a large house. The simplest example is the system will turned off air condition automatically when there is no one at home

  5. Safety and security
  6. The safety system in a smart home can do a lot more than just normal or traditional alarm systems. Almost all equipments, elements and tools in smart home networked together, an alarm can be set into doing some actions. The development of smart technology and the advancements of security systems these days are capable to make the user to control the arming and disarming the alarm, or edit specific settings on the alarm and security settings such as key code, configure the intrusion detection system settings. For example when there is fire, the alarm will be set when the fire is detected and will also turn on the lights to show the occupants of the house the safest way out, furthermore, the system will unlock all the doors and windows to allow smoke to be ventilated and automatically dial to the nearest emergency and rescue services. The security system in the smart home is slightly different with ones with the traditional burglar alarm system which include turning on and off the lighting system when nobody at home and using camera to detect and show to the owner who is coming up the driveway whereas in smart home system, when it detect there is an intruder coming, the system will trigger the camera used to record a video, take picture, digitize it and send it to the user and nearest police via e-mail. The system can also be set to vacation or holiday mode where it will turn on and off the lighting system and certain appliances to randomly so it will give some picture or impression of someone is still present in the house. The security system can be integrated with the lighting system which can be set to detect peculiar motion then warn the security personnel or the house owner if there is any window or door that is being forced open through the sensors that are connected to the system.

  7. Multi-functional Buttons and remote controllers
  8. The multi functional buttons and remote controllers are taking a very important part in the procedure of how the smart home will work. These buttons connect all of the functional system inside and outside the house and can be controlled by several different sources at the same time even when the user is located in different places by wired or wireless devices. The remote control system can be presented by wall-mount touch screen devices, windows based PDA or by any computing devices that is networked to the system. For example, one button for lighting can control every lighting system and lamps inside and outside the house. It can be scheduled when the lights will have to be turned off and on according to the condition of the time, if it is day, the lights will be turned off automatically and when it is night time, the lights will be turned on automatically. The same thing goes for alarm and security system; the buttons can control or set the alarm mode. For example, when the tenant is away for holiday, the alarm surrounding the house can be set to vacation mode or when the tenant is going to sleep at night he can set the alarm and the security system into night mode. The remote controller which consists of several buttons can be in the form of a PDA or Personal Digital Assistant which makes the tenants possible to access the system in their house even when they are far away from their house. The remote controller grant easiness for a living, especially for the elderly who is commonly tend to forgot small things but important to do like for example when he goes out from the house, he have the tendency to leave the doors unlocked, or forgot to turned off any electronic devices that still work. The remote controller can be set to be at a mode when the elderly getting out of home, he can just simply press a button that will turn off the lights, turn the shutters down, lock all the doors and windows, turn off all air conditioning system at home, and arm the security system such as alarm, CCTV, et cetera.

  9. Entertainment
  10. The entertainment feature in the smart home can be very diverse in so many ways for a fully capable smart home system. By using multiple entertainment system the user can get a different music or radio or any audio in different rooms. (Richard, 2008)Touch Media Systems Ltd (2008) described that there are several aspects of approach in implementing the entertainment system, they are:

    • Design: a well designed entertainment system is highly required in order to maximize the benefits in using the multiple entertainment system.
    • Convenience: the server that control the system must be made available to anyone who wants it and it should be done in a way that will not disturb the neighbors or outsider.
    • Quality: the quality of the sounds, pictures, videos must meet the user's desired design and budget in consecutively to get the high quality audio system that will be implemented inside the house

  11. Emergency management
  12. A smart home can determined and inform the family member or the appropriate salvation authorities or group of what the emergency is about. If there is a gas leak, the system will detect and immediately shut down the main gas and disable all electronic devices and easy burning devices to prevent accidentally sparks generated, then the house will the occupants about the leak with alarm, further technology of the smart home using voice automation which will tell the occupants what is going on and what to do about it.

  13. Logging an Tracing
  14. The smart home system presents a capability of the system to record a variety of logging and tracing of the user and the house. The devices inside or outside the house which connected to each other to a master server or controller has its own private device log. Logs are used to store the history of each property on particular device. It can be used to keep a record of all received calls, dialed calls and unanswered calls, including the time, the duration of talking and the caller ID. Logs also helpful in solving the troubles and detect the unusual behavior of the properties that can be set up to evaluate it daily, weekly, monthly, yearly or user predefined schedules. Referring to the homepage of Log-Inn("Log-Inn: Smart Homes and Smart Meeting Rooms,"), The logs can be divided into 3 types:

    • User Defined Logs: the user is able to define their own logs that can collect the record of the changing in behavior in property from different devices. This type allows to have a chronological record that stored even there is many changes in the system
    • Error Log: errors can be reported from any device plug in, or from the hardware interface, or scripts. If there is error condition occur, the error report will be sent automatically to the system error log, this type can provide a place to monitor the problems that happen in the system
    • System Log: this system log is used to collect details of any error messages and it is used for collecting tracing data

2.2.2. Universal Remote Control and Multifunction Buttons

A remote control is one of the components of electronic device that is used to operate the electronic device wirelessly from a specified distance. IR or Infra Red signal is the most common media to be applied in remote control and a few via radio signals. The remote control is used to issue command from a specified distance to an electronic device such as televisions, DVD Player, dimmers, et cetera which consists of some buttons for adjusting various settings of the devices. Nowadays, in implementing the remote control with multifunction button in smart home, user tend to choose the wall-mount remote control as the master control in the smart home. This kind of wireless remote control is placed on an existing wall to receive and send command to the networking system on the entire house. Specifically, the remote control is placed in a special mounting fixture and it's provided to interlock with the existing switch plate so it is possible to remove the remote control from the wall and can be taken to other locations within the house.

The remote control to manage the work of the system inside the house can be presented not only in wall-mount remote control, but also can be presented in a normal remote control like the remote control that is used for television, fan, et cetera or in a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) which can be carried around for the user to control the system inside the house even they are far from their house. Any type of the remote control will be constructed by several buttons. A button can be described as “A small part or area of a machine that you press to make it do something”(Longman, 2009). A button placed on a circuit board; it includes a function part, a status switching part, and a press able number or image part. When the user press the press able part, the status switching part will arm the circuit board to make electrical contact to activate the specific function. The multifunction button designed to have some function that can do several tasks to activate or deactivate the specified system.

2.2.3. Agent

Nowadays, the technology has been highly improved especially in information technology and computer science. The usage of an agent in a system or website or an interface is not peculiar anymore, moreover, there are a lot of company and organization which require their software engineering and website designer to construct a system or a program or a web-based computing that includes agent-based modeling in it. “Agent-based modeling (ABM), a system is modeled as a collection of autonomous decision-making entities called agents. Each agent individually assesses its situation and makes decisions on the basis of a set of rules” (Bonabeau, 14 May 2002). An agent can be said as anything that distinguished through sensors and act based on actuators.

The agents can be concluded as software intelligent agent. The software intelligent agent concept includes the intelligent agents, autonomous agents, distributed agents, multi-agent systems and mobile agents. Those agents have their own characteristics. The intelligent agent has some aspect of the artificial intelligence capabilities such as learning and reasoning. Autonomous agent is capable in achieve their objectives. The distributed agents are agent that can be executed on separated computer while the mobile agents are agents that can be relocated to different processors to be executed. There is also agent that is capable to communicate with the user in order to achieve its objectives; the multi-agent systems. In designing an agent there is two factors that is required in order to make the system with agent can work; an agent program and architecture.

Architecture in computing terms here means of a computing device that consists of physical sensors and actuators. To design a system that requires agent, we have to determine what kind of agent or what type of agent that we need to be construct the program and then combined with the appropriate architecture. Despite the fact that the software intelligent agent is classified into some types, we still have to determine what sort of agent that will do the necessary tasks on the software and the system.

According to Duygulu (2008), there are four basic types of agent that can be chosen to be implemented in the process of design a system with agent:

  1. Simple reflex agents
  2. The simple reflex agent is very simple, intelligent but limited. The agent work based on the current percept and ignoring the history. It is limited because the infinite loops are often inevitable; the possible solution to avoid the infinite loops is by randomizing. For example is the simple reflex vacuum cleaner agent

  3. Model based reflex agents
  4. This is the type of agent that works depends on the percept history and reflects at least some unobserved aspects of the current environment state and it's updating the internal state information

  5. Goal-based agents
  6. The goal-based agent is a type of agent that knows about the current state of the environment but not always enough to make decision what to do because it needs goal information about the conditions that are desirable. The agent program can be combined with this agent in order to preserve information about the results of the action to be chosen to achieve that goal

  7. Utility based agents
  8. In order to create high quality behavior in nearly all environments, goals alone is not enough and this agent provide the binary peculiarity between happy and unhappy circumstances, the utility function maps the condition onto a real number that presents the allied degree of happiness.

2.2.4. Integrated Webcam with Java Programming Language

Java programming language is one of the most popular programming languages that are used widely by various kinds of people. Java is an object oriented programming language that is platform independent. An object oriented programming is “A type of programming in which programmers define not only the data type of a data structure, but also the types of operations (functions) that can be applied to the data structure”

("Object-Oriented Programming," 2009). It is being developed by Sun and has been used on web-based applications and any other systems since then. It follows after C++ and designed as an application that can run in limited memory which source code is compiled into an intermediate language or as well known as bytecode. The bytecode must be compiled into machine code just before the execution of the program or a line at time by using Java Virtual Machine (JVM) runtime engine.

The webcam that is desired to be integrated with the Java program will be programmed using several Java libraries. The main library to be implemented in the coding process is the Java Media Framework API (JMF) which enables audio, video and any other capturing media can be added to applications and applets that are built on Java technology. “The Java Media Framework API (JMF) enables audio, video and other time-based media to be added to applications and applets built on Java technology” (Microsystems, 1994-2009)

Chapter 3

Methodology

In order to have a systematic system with a scheduled work plan, a method has been found to present the project's system development life cycle method that adapted from System Analysis and Design lecture notes

3.1. System Life Cycle Development (SDLC) Traditional Waterfall Model

The system development could be done in some various ways, there is structured programming, structured analysis, and structured design that incorporated to made up structured approach. The structured approach is the technique that we use in developing the project. This chosen technique includes data organization and structure, relational database design, and user interfaces issues. The process of finishing the project will be effective by doing each and every step begins after another completes, with a little backtracking and looping.

Through this idea, a System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) could be applied to plan, analyze, design, implement and maintain the system. The SDLC waterfall model was chosen because the steps included and how each steps being done are suitable with the way that is desired to establish the system. The SDLC traditional model is includes these following steps:

3.1.1. Project Initiation and Planning

As the first step, choosing the title as the project that will be done as the Final Year Project (FYP), the meet the supervisor and discuss possible systems that could be applied to the project. Several tasks have been done like making literature research and browse some information about the project before making the proposal to give clear view of what is the problem, the issues, and to get the relevant information to build the project. The priority is to develop a system which will give a clear possible solution for the issues given. The selected project which is Study of Smart Home for Elderly gives some benefits such as the flexibility and easiness ways to obtain, analyze, and develop the general system requirements. After do some brainstorming, identifying, and researching further about the project, a proposal was drafted to the supervisor, Mdm. Neo Han Foon.

The project planning was the process of defining clear, discrete activities and the other work needed to be done to complete the system. On this stage, the total information that the system needed are identified, analyzed, prioritized and arranged. The objective of this stage was to describe the project objective, problem statement and project scope in order to have a clear view and to see the overall structure of the system. Initially, the studies to access the original assumption and analyze the problems that could interfere the success in the future system development need to be done. After identifying the problems that might occur, a plan was established and procedures to finding the suitable solution of the problem findings. A project schedule needs to be produced after identifying some major activities of the project. According to the SDLC that we use, we must do each step accordingly and consecutively, thus a Gantt chart was developed using the Smart Draw and working on the tasks mentioned. Then the generic project standard, procedure and resources such as the programming tools, database tools and any other tools needed for the system development was discovered, thus we put them in group of several tasks that need to be done and what are the tools used in order to complete those tasks.

Item/

Task

Project

planning

Software requirement

definition

Architectural

design

Programming

Acceptance

Test

Major activities

· Identify the project scope, objective and problem statement

· Deter-mining the project schedule

· Construct diagrams; Use case and Flow Chart

· Determine software requirement

· Constructs of physical model

· Hardware and software acquisition

· Scripting and coding

· System testing

Tools

· Microsoft Word

· Smart Draw

· Smart Draw

· JMF

· Notepad

· JADE

· Logitech Webcam

· JAVA

· JAVA

· Compiling with command prompt

Metho-

dology

· SDLC approach

Deliver-

able

Outcome

· Gantt Chart

· Project scope

· Project objective

· Problem statement

· Software requirement document

· Use Case Diagram

· Flow Chart

· Report design

· Interface design

· Coding script

· Completed and error free system

3.1.2. Analysis

The objective of doing analysis stage is to determine and understand the functional requirements, the obstacles and errors that might occur, and constructs a logical model or the system. During this stage the system requirements are studied and structured and the information gathering and determining system requirement must have been done at this stage. The information gathering is done by collecting a large amount of information through internet, articles, journals and news that are related to smart homes and elderly people. Through the literature review, it could be understood what a smart home is and the usage of it and the needs of elderly people in the houses along with the obstacles that might occur to their condition. By determining the system requirements, the technical and functional requirements in the system can be obtained. In technical requirements, the operational objectives are related to the range of software and hardware that were mentioned in the planning phase on SDLC.

3.1.3. Design

After finish the analyzing steps, the requirements that are needed in order to achieve the solution are settled; then turn the findings into logical then physical system specifications. An idea was established to present the solution using JAVA programming and design a Graphic User Interface (GUI) that will be presented as a working system that can be used by the tenant. The design phase of the solution is divided into two parts:

  • Logical design - Arise the design in the logical terms is to determine all of the functional features that might be used in the system
  • Physical design - logical design is being transformed into the physical design with all the specific details from the chosen programming language and the system construction can be accomplished in a form of GUI.

3.1.4. Implementation

The implementation stage is the fifth stage in the SDLC which now the system specification turned from the coding mode into a working system that already been compiled, tested, error free, and put into live application.

3.1.5. Maintenance

Maintenance was the final phase of SDLC in which the system is systematically repaired and improved. All of the weaknesses of the system and the researches have been decreased. In this stage improvement of the system is carried out in order to have an effective and user friendly system. This stage provide the ability for us to keep researching for the new versions or releases of software with related updates for the importance of documentation, training and support

Chapter 4

Proposed Solution and Implementation Plan/Design

The Proposed solution was achieved based on the findings that have been found during the research and designed to accomplish the project objectives

4.1. Proposed Solution

By observing the project objectives, which are to design or to find a solution in order to find the way out for having a smart home system for the elderly, establish a system that can monitor user inside and outside the house, research in order to finding the prototypes that will be used inside the house, and also the system that can integrate with the developing and diverse technologies into a working system and present the solutions in a user friendly interface that gives user the idea of what is a smart home and the usage of it, a solution has been found to achieve the objectives by present it in a smart home remote control system with multifunction button in a Graphical User Interface (GUI) which is user friendly with some smart system or smart application that can be implemented virtually in the GUI to make the user acknowledge the simple or basic concept of the smart home.

The GUI will be consists of some buttons and screen which appear to be a remote controller to be used inside the smart home to control the system inside the house. The programming language that will be used is Java programming language and integrate a webcam application inside the GUI which can detect if there is a movement of someone in front of the camera which then leads to the appearance of an agent that will greets the user with “Good Morning” or “Good day” or “Good evening” according to the time of the day when the system is being turned on.

The user later can choose whether he/ she want to turn on the main system inside the house which are the water system, electricity system or security system. The GUI will notify the user if the chosen system already being turned on or not. After using the functionality of the buttons, the user can turn off the system while the webcam screen and agent will disappear before it exits from the program.

4.2. Implementation Plan/Design

Stage 4 in the System Life Cycle Development (SDLC) is about implementing the design that have discovered in stage 3 by actualizing the logical and physical design. The logical design can be presented in the Flow Chart diagram and Use Case diagram. The logical design constructed into an easy to use GUI as the physical design. The GUI will consist of several buttons, a screen and an agent. An embodied conversational agent was chosen as the agent to guide the user in running the system. What is an embodied conversational agent? It is “An interface in which the system is represented as a person, in which information is conveyed to human users via multiple modalities such as voice and hand gestures, and in which the internal representation is modality-independent, and both propositional and non-propositional.” (Cassell, 2001). The use of this type of agent is to help or guide the user to use the remote control, it will greet the user according to the time of the day the user turn on the system, and provide help if necessary. A camera will also be used in the system to acknowledge the system if there is a motion in front of camera to trigger the agent to show up. The buttons that are press able are being used to turn on or off the system and some main device inside or outside the house according to the user's preferences. A Java programming language will be used to construct the whole system.

4.2.1. Flow Chart Diagram

4.2.2. Use Case Diagram

4.2.3. Graphic User Interface Screen Shots

Chapter 5

Conclusions

This project is subjected to help the elderly have easier way of life by establish a system that can monitor user inside and outside the house, research in order to finding the prototypes that will be used inside the house, and also the system that can integrate with the developing and diverse technologies into a working system and present the solutions in a user friendly interface that gives user the idea of what is a smart home and the usage of it. Nowadays, a large percentage of elderly that are living alone with diseases and disabilities keep increasing. Due to the aging, there are some basic activities that the elderly find it. In a smart home, electrical devices could be controlled and automated to work through a control unit or by a remote controller or automatically in a way which determined by the user or programmer, in this way, the elderly should find how the smart home provide the comfort and easiness way of living.

5.1 Elderly

“The terms elderly are usually applied to adults older than 60 years, when certain physiologic features become apparent” (Rossi, 2003). The aging progress can slow one's movement, way of thinking, and limit their activities. The elderly seems to be having more problems due to decreasing of some basic abilities in running the basic activities in their daily life. The idea of having a smart home might solve their problems. The basic standard of a smart home should be enough to bring easiness to their daily activities inside and surrounding the house, it must be well adjusted to meet the elderly needs and can covered the elderly weaknesses.

5.2. Smart Home

“In a schematic way, a smart home can be described by a house which is equipped with smart objects, a home network make it possible to transport information between objects and a residential gateway to connect the smart home to the outside Internet world. Smart objects make it possible to interact with inhabitants or to observe them.” (D. M. Vincent Ricquebourg, David Durand, Bruno Marhic, Laurent Delahoche, Christophe Loge, 2006). There are various kinds of appliances that are connected to each other to the main network that can be controlled and automatically work in a way a user determined. The automation features provided by smart home system should make it easy for the tenants or everyone in the house, especially the elderly who have lost some of their ability in doing some basic activities inside and surrounding house.

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