We are very happy to write this post, which is the last ‘thematic’ one that we are going to publish for the Eclipse Open IoT Challenge 4.0.
In this entry, we are going to talk about Mira, our Android app. It is focused on nursing homes and it is the culmination of our proposal. “Mirar” is the Spanish word of the verb “to look“; the translation of mira in English is “it looks“. You can download the code here.
It is necessary to understand our proposal as a whole in order to understand what Mira is. In a nutshell, we are participating in the challenge with the proposal trusted indoor positioning system for nursing homes:
- An IPS is a system to position elements indoors. When we speak of an IPS, the image of a plane with moving points quickly comes to our minds. This is not what we want. We want to use the locations in a way that allows us to say something similar to: X certifies that Y was in place Z at time T.
- To do the above, we believe that, currently, there is no better technology than distributed ledgers. Storing locations in a distributed ledger allow us guaranteeing that they can be trusted.
- Why do we focus on nursing homes? We believe that there are big problems to address in the generalization of the use of Trusted IPS. The only cases in which it can be applied reasonably today are those in which there are win-win situations. For us, there is a clear win-win situation in nursing homes, and this is the main reason that leads us to focus on these scenarios. It is a case in which our technological proposal is useful. If you want to go deeper into our approach, we refer you to this post.
Our Proof of Concept (PoC) has two parts. The main one is Jura, a Trusted IPS developed as Kura components which is able to store locations in a distributed ledger like IOTA. Jura implements two trusted IPS systems, (i) a public system in which locations are signed and transferred to a specific address and (ii) an anonymous system in which each location is signed, encrypted with a unique key and transferred to a unique address.
The other part of the PoC is Mira, our Android app focused on the relatives of nursing home’s residents and it is built using the Anonymous Trusted IPS of Jura.
Let us tell you a story.
It is not a funny story, but we think it is illustrative.
Let’s suppose a nursing home in which Jura has been deployed and in which all residents carry a personal and non-transferable beacon.
For each beacon, there is a unique identifier called DIW (Device Identification Word). The DIW can only be obtained by authorized staff. Notice that it is necessary to know the administration password and have access to Firma Website in order to get it. If both requirements are met and we also know the MAC of the beacon we can obtain the beacon’s DIW.
Stephen is a new resident of the nursing home. When he goes to check-in for the first time, nurse Mel assigns him a beacon. Mel provides the identifier and DIW of the beacon to Stephen and to his son Tod.
Mel explains Stephen and Tod that this is a new service that offers the nursing home to residents and relatives. A service that allows them keeping track of Stephen’s locations at all times.
This causes father and son to move from a state of curiosity to one of concern. They think: ‘anyone can monitor Stephen‘.
In order to calm them, Mel explains that the system does not work as they think. Each time the nursing home register a location of Stephen, it saves it in a different place and using a different password. Only those who know the identifier of Stephen and his DIW can know the places where the locations have been saved and the passwords that have been used.
Once the above is clarified, they ask Mel about the benefits of the service. Mel explains that:
- It is an optional service. The nursing home has a fixed schedule for catering services, family visits, doctor visits, recreational activities and late arrivals. The staff try to take care of all residents in the best way, but like all humans, they make mistakes. Younger residents are reluctant to use the service, but those with mobility problems, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease feel safer using the service. They believe that the staff take better care of them.
- If Stephen uses the service, all his locations will be digitally signed by the nursing home and it will not be able to remove or modify them. Stephen or Tod may use the locations to prove any negligence in the nursing home and the nursing home cannot deny the authenticity of the locations.
- Currently, the service is in its early stages. In the future, it will offer a wide range of functionalities such as early detections of diseases, optimisation of emergency evacuations, personalized care or guaranteed attention among others.
Although Stephen and Tod are not fully convinced to use the service since they have never used anything like that, they decide to use it.
Mel explains to them that they will be able to use the service from their phones and provides them with a link to download Mira.
When they open Mira, they find two options, (i) relatives and (ii) shared locations.
Mel explains to them that they must select ‘relatives’ in order to enter the identifier as well as the DIW of Stephen’s device (beacon). Since the identifier is hard to remember, Mira allows them entering a name for the device.
# Click on ‘add relative’ and that’s it.
# Once added, to see his/her location records, simply click on his/her name.
Mel explains them that:
- The icon with the label ‘Verified‘ is the guarantee which shows that it is signed by the nursing home.
- The icon on the right allows them to share the location.
Before explaining how to share the locations, he asks them to click the label ‘Verified‘ on a particular location. They do it and Mira shows them a website.
Mel explains them that this is the place where the location of Stephen is stored, and lets them know that there are hundreds of copies in computers around the world.
He tells them to go back to Mira to explains them how to share a location.
# The locations are shared from Mira to Mira, and to do this you only have to click on the icon on the right and enter the phone number of the other person. – Mel tells them. – But do not worry about SMS costs, we use our own communication service, something called MQTT. When you share a location with another person, you are telling them where it is stored and its password, so it is no longer anonymous. Anyway, as each location is stored in a different place and with a different password you are only revealing the location you want to reveal, the rest remain anonymous to others. Therefore, if you need to share a location with a relative, a social assistant, a lawyer or any other person, you can rest assured that they will only be able to see what you want to share.
Stephen and Tod carry out a small test between them and see how everything works as Mel has told them.
And this is Mira. We hope you find it useful 🙂
We know that there are still many problems to solve before these tools can be used with full guarantees, but we believe that in a few years they will be omnipresent. We focus on nursing homes, but the main idea can be applied directly in other contexts (kindergartens, hospitals, animal residences, …) and with some modifications in many more (check-in/check-out, supply chain management, emergency response, pay per use, …).