By: Ayda Naserialiabadi 

As people age, their desire for independence remains strong. Statistics indicate that nearly 90% of seniors over 65 years of age prefer to stay in their homes for as long as possible. However, this desire for independence can come at a cost. Nearly 8 out of 10 seniors experience hearing loss and 13.5% have been diagnosed with dementia, which can make it difficult for them to detect potential dangers in their homes. One such danger is stove fires, which is the leading cause of home fires due to unattended cooking. This can be a serious concern, especially for seniors living alone, as they may be unable to hear the smoke detectors in the event of a fire.

In response to this concern, the author and her team, Veebar Tech, invented an innovative device to ensure the safety of seniors in the kitchen. It is an add-on system that makes your existing stove and smoke detectors smart, helping to prevent potentially dangerous accidental fires. With the use of this ground-breaking device, family caregivers can monitor kitchen activity like stove usage and smoke detector readings. Caregivers will receive notifications on their mobile phones whenever unusual activities are detected, such as the stove being left on for more than 45 minutes or an unexpected smoke alarm. This ensures that appropriate action can be taken quickly if needed, protecting loved ones from any potential danger.

Block Diagram of the Proposed System

Nowadays, the use of smart systems among seniors has been increasing over the last few years, with the pandemic being a turning point for older adults and tech adoption. Given that millions of North Americans were stuck at home or separated from loved ones, the share of seniors who use a smartphone, for example, rose from 57.6% in 2019 to 65.6% in 2021 – the highest rate ever recorded, federal data shows. Having said that, smart-home technologies have been growing in popularity over the years, and it’s not just for young tech enthusiasts. Older adults can benefit from the convenience and safety features of smart-home devices, making their everyday lives easier and more enjoyable. These smart technologies provide a great opportunity for people to connect with their loved ones 24/7, no matter how far they are.

Author and her team have conducted extensive research in the areas of fire safety, elderly care and monitoring technology to create a product that would be both affordable and beneficial for seniors. They also spoke with several caregivers and seniors to better understand their needs and the challenges they faced when it came to staying safe at home. Moreover, as volunteers of IEEE WIE, author and her team won a grant by IEEE EPICS: Access and Abilities Competition to help communities who have limited capacities. The team is excited to offer individualized mentorship and support to students looking to gain hands-on experience in technology development. The goal is to share their expertise in a professional and meaningful way and provide students with all the tools, resources, and guidance they need to turn their ideas into reality.

The Veebar Tech device is an excellent example of how technology can be used to address the needs of seniors while helping them maintain their independence. The device not only enhances the safety of seniors, but it also provides peace of mind to their family members and caregivers. Moreover, the device’s compatibility with all kitchen appliances ensures that it can be used in any household, making it accessible to everyone.