Nominet launches IoT solution to guide those with sensory impairments through their daily routines

Pips

Nominet, best-known for managing the UK internet infrastructure, announced the availability of free code and instructions for building smart IoT buttons, called ‘Pips’.

Pips buttons use Bluetooth to create a sequence of audio and visual reminders to help guide those with sensory impairments through their daily routines, and to have confidence while navigating their environment.

Pips prototypes, which have been designed and built by Nominet, can be placed anywhere around the home and flash and beep – to show the next task that needs to be completed – anything from taking medication or brushing teeth to feeding pets. Each Pip is a round button the size of a jam jar lid and customisable – a variety of colours are available along with relevant icons or text as a reminder of the task. Once a button has been pressed, it turns off and activates the next Pip in the sequence.

Nominet’s R&D team has been working to develop Pips as a toy and useful tool for visually impaired children, and has tested a prototype with the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB). It has also spoken to many front line professionals and support groups – from senior people within the NHS to occupational therapists to academics to charities – to understand how Pips might be useful for those living with dementia or memory loss.

From today, Nominet is making the code and instructions for building Pips publicly available and open source, so that students, researchers and inventors can build and experiment with their own Pips devices.

David Simpson, ‎senior researcher of R&D at ‎Nominet said “Our team has been exploring spaces where we think our Internet of Things (IoT) technologies might be relevant and are particularly interested in projects that have the potential to deliver social or economic benefits, so health tech projects like this are a win-win in this context.

“We’re proud to have developed this Pips system, have seen how it could help those with visual impairment, and want to encourage others such as medical researchers to investigate how it might be used in other ways and more widely. For example, to help those who suffer from dementia or memory loss – the potential is enormous. This is why we are making the Pips code publically available for free, together with a shopping list of components and instructions to help others build the devices themselves.”

Lennie playing with Pips
Lennie playing with Pips

Lennie, a five year old boy, is completely blind after he was diagnosed with cancer at 10 months and the tumour crushed his optic nerves. Lennie’s father, Ed Anderton, explained how this tech has the potential to give children with visual impairments more confidence: “My son Lennie had great fun testing out prototypes of Nominet’s Pips technology. As a child with a severe visual impairment, building up confidence to move freely around his environment is a challenge. The experience of trying out the Pips demonstrated how technology advances such as this can help Lennie build that confidence in a fun and stimulating way. He was really engaged by the game of finding the Pips by following their beeping sounds and pressing the big buttons to trigger the next one. It was a form of play which gave him reassurance and encouraged him to navigate his home, through tapping into his inquisitive nature.”

(See the family’s blog on Lennie’s progress though his treatment at: https://lookingafterlennie.wordpress.com/)

Tom Pey, CEO, Royal London Society for Blind People said, “There are over 35,000 blind and partially sighted children and young people in the UK. Development in early years is crucial for all children, and play is a huge part of that. Sadly, 40% of blind children do not have a neighbourhood friend to play with. Creating suitable toys that help vision impaired children play and interact with other children is key for their development. Nominet’s technical expertise and willingness to share the Pips code publically will hopefully encourage others to develop more solutions to overcome this current block in blind children’s development.”

Nominet’s Pips prototype is built around a Light Blue Bean microcontroller, which uses Bluetooth to send and receive messages via the devices. Once a message is received, a buzzer and LED in the Pip is activated, and once pressed, it will send a message to the next Pip in the sequence to activate that before returning to idle mode. The Pips system can also alert care providers via email or text message if any part of the routine isn’t completed. Additionally, the system requires a ‘gateway’, such as a laptop or Raspberry Pi, to run the software to coordinate Pip behaviour.

Nominet’s development of Pips is part of the R&D team’s wider work exploring the potential uses of IoT technology for public benefit. It follows the development of the Flood Network’s early warning flood map and a set of interoperable tools that help developers improve IoT development. The name of the devices, Pips, is taken from the iconic sound played to mark the start of the hour on BBC radio broadcasts. Like the devices’ sound, it’s unmistakable and reminds users about their key tasks at home.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_ OR @jcIoTnow

FEATURED IoT STORIES

9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, iot home automation is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more
RECENT ARTICLES

Silicon Labs brings AI and Machine Learning to the edge with matter-ready platform

Posted on: January 24, 2022

AUSTIN, TX. 24 January 2022 – Silicon Labs, a specialist in secure, intelligent wireless technology for a more connected world, announced the BG24 and MG24 families of 2.4 GHz wireless SoCs for Bluetooth and Multiple-protocol operations, respectively, and a new software toolkit. This new co-optimised hardware and software platform will help bring AI/ML applications and

Read more

The chaos of legacy equipment

Posted on: January 24, 2022

Legacy equipment is vital to the functioning of many manufacturing facilities. Nevertheless, with rapid advancement in automated and connected technologies, managing both new and old equipment simultaneously can be a challenging balancing act. Here Johan Jonzon, CMO and co-founder specialist in edge analytics for the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Crosser, shares insight into how

Read more