Presence indicator hardware for reluctant wearer. Does it exist?

There is a situation that I would like to try to address with home automation. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Good friends have a child with Down’s syndrome. In the past he has found his way out of the house without supervision and luckily not gotten lost or injured himself, but he has been lucky.

I can’t find a solution in an existing product and also don’t see hardware that could be used as part of a home automation setup. I guess a cell phone is the answer for most people. He doesn’t have one and even if he did there is no guarantee that he would have it with him.

My thoughts on what is needed.
The hardware has to be something that he doesn’t mind having on. Can’t be bulky or fragile. Cost is probably less an issue.
It would trigger some home automation action when he leaves the house… flash lights, send email/sms,etc
It would need a failsafe if the battery powers down
It would need a failsafe if it is removed.

What would be perfect in my mind is some sort of fitness tracker with limited or no display. Could connect to home wifi and once disconnected would trigger some action. Would also trigger an action if powered down. I was thinking fitness tracker because it would benefit from knowing that it is completely stationary (was removed), but the ideal product would be difficult to remove without help… maybe a two handed removal.

It know this is a lot to ask, but I was thinking more in terms of starting with a blank slate. If there is anything close that can be used? I don’t mind working with the software, but here I think hardware is the issue.

Thanks for reading and sharing your ideas.

A device that’s able to report that it was removed, that puts you up in the ankle bracelet territory. A fitness tracker wouldn’t be able to report to HA that it had been removed. However, if you can find one that has an accessible API you could potentially poll that for the heart rate - and alert if it spends too long at the default rate.

That said, have you looked at devices aimed at those with dementia or with significant health issues? My mother-in-law has a tag that if she remains stationary for too long (or takes it off) will alarm - aimed at alerting if she’s fallen or passed out.

From a HA perspective, a basic bluetooth beacon will cover the not fragile or bulky side, and battery life on those is generally very long. A quick Google finds various ones that are bracelet/necklace form.

I’d couple those with a door sensor though, as it’s not uncommon for beacons to report away briefly, and if the door hasn’t opened then presumably he can’t have left.

That purely is a HA thing :wink:

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So bluetooth can be a good replacement for WiFi. Is there a generic bluetooth receiver that can be attached to HA? I see all of the fitness bands are bluetooth bracelets and one of those might be a good candidate. Has anyone used bluetooth for presence detection by using one or more receivers?

Monitor is your friend here. It’s a distributed Bluetooth “receiver” system that integrates with HA. That’s a long thread, but well worth reading through.

I haven’t tried it with a fitness tracker since the ones I have don’t broadcast when connected to a phone (it’s a similar problem with smart watches). I know others have done that kind of thing though.

I use Tasker with a Miband, you can use the band removed intent to trigger the status in HASS.

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That’s awesome :slight_smile:

i found the tile pro, attached to the keys, to be very reliable (description of how i got it to work @ reddit):

and also, you can’t really leave the house without your keys, that’s why it should work accurately even with a hardware reluctant person. there’s no faisafe for an empty or removed battery, but the tile pro that i got last year are still running on their first set of batteries.

I use this too, but find there is a significant delay (like 10 mins) before the intent gets generated that I stopped wearing the band. I’m not sure this is quick enough for the requirements. Continuous heartrate monitoring could maybe be an option.

The band is also quite easy to remove for the wearer unfortunately. Maybe there is some more rugged strap out there but I cant find it very quickly … Might call for professional hardware indeed.

These replies are great. Lots of things to think about.

He is not old enough or able to drive and doesn’t have keys… I like the idea of tile and the battery life !!, but it would need to be hidden in clothes and that’s more of a task and less visible than an arm band.

I will check out setting up an assortment of raspberry PIs and using the monitor software.

Too bad the removed intent on the band is slow to respond. I noticed even for my inexpensive activity band it was still showing a heartbeat for a while it was off for a while. Maybe that was some averaging of previous reading. Not sure.

Any hardware suggestions for the bluetooth receivers and the home automation host? The target would be two floors of about 1000 square feet each, so any additional thoughts on the number and placement? The house does not have any wide open multiple floor areas… just a single stairway.

See the monitor thread I linked to :wink: I’ve found the Orange Pi Zero LTS with an external (CSR 4.0) USB Bluetooth dongle is much more stable than a Rasperry Pi. It also has the advantage that you can install the OS on the eMMC, which has a much longer life than SD cards. You can run Home Assistant on anything, but performance is better on better hardware, than on a Pi.

You’ll likely find that two or three will be enough, depending on the property construction. I find that in modern construction (plasterboard/drywall) you’ll get a reliable range of about 10 meters indoors.

Add in door sensors so that you’re only running scans when it’s possible for somebody to have left, and you should have high confidence detections.

You could also use a camera with object detection (like Doods). Even without face detection (which clearly doesn’t work when somebody is walking away) it’s another potentially useful data point. Motion sensors are potentially other useful data points here. For example:

  1. Motion in the hall
  2. Front door opens
  3. Front door closes
  4. Person detected

Now you know somebody is leaving. You don’t yet know who but if you can determine the presence of others, you could provide a low confidence alert that the son has left unattended. Even without the camera you could do logic with the hall motion sensor not being active after the door closed. Multiple motion sensors increase your confidence.

Thanks. I did read through that link. At least the part I read through talked more about how it works rather than required hardware. I will go through it again in more detail, just trying to get a better understanding of what is possible now.

OrangePI Zero looks like a winner. would be even better if there was a kit that had the power supply built into a case… could be just be plugged into the outlet. Thanks for the recommendation.

Before I read the monitor thread completely, my understanding is that i would have three or four orangePIs running some monitor software to cover the house with bluetooth signal.

Would the HA software run on one of those devices? something more powerful? separate device?
I can read up on how the HA software interfaces with monitor. Doesn’t change the hardware needs as I would imagine that each bluetooth reciever communicates its connected device identities using wifi (included) or bluetooth (purchased).

Home Assistant (which is what this forum is about) would want something more powerful. An Orange Pi Zero is way underpowered - see the guidance.

You’ll have HA running on a Pi/NUC/in a VM, using your MQTT broker so that monitor can communicate with it. Each of those instances will send messages about the devices they’re told to listen for, and you can use the combined result to work out what’s going on.

Don’t take this as written in stone, as your setup may be different to my setup, but as a guide:

  • Home Assistant: Raspberry Pi3b or 4 with a WD Purple SD card (or other card designed for a high write lifecycle)
    • Door sensor: Xiaomi Aqara Zigbee door/window sensor
    • Motion sensor: Xiaomi Aqara Zigbee motion sensor
    • Zigbee controller: CC2531 USB controller for use with Zigbee2MQTT
  • Monitor node: Orange Pi Zero LTS with a CSR 4.0 USB dongle

Adding a camera and person detection to that isn’t hard, but it will probably cost the same again as the above, if not a little more.

Instead of monitor you may want to look at room assistant since that’s also intended to work out where something is within the house (you can do that with monitor). That could be handy for estimating if they’ve left the tracker behind (it hasn’t moved in a while).

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Thanks Tinkerer. All seems reasonable. Now I need to look into the fitness/Bluetooth bands and get started.

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