Softjourn

Improving Elder Care Through Technology

November 02, 2015

The Need

Have you ever thought of the possibility to take care of your elderly relatives remotely? People are often so busy that they cannot give enough attention to their parents or grandparents, who live alone and need to feel someone’s care. 

GeriJoy found a solution by developing an app that connects families while providing peace of mind that their loved ones are receiving the highest quality care. This app allows seniors to talk with an avatar (say, a dog or a cat) the same way they would talk to another person in the room.

The sound is streamed over the Internet to a live GeriJoy Health Advocate, who responds instantly through a text-to-speech system, letting GeriJoy talk with residents with proper intelligence and compassion.

GeriJoy needed to revamp their existing app so that it did not lock the device while operating, but allowed for other windows or programs to be opened at the same time. The GeriJoy app had to remain on top of other programs and windows like a small floating window. So they approached Softjourn to help them achieve this goal.

The Solution

Phase I – Proof of Concept

Our task was to make sure that all the necessary functionality would work on Android tablets. The previous app was written in Flash but the client wanted to rewrite it in Java. After some research into how to improve the existing service, our developers came up with several solutions.

Phase II – Development of the app, adding new functionality

Softjourn’s task was to develop an app to take care of seniors, providing them with a personal virtual assistant with whom they could talk and chat.

The app includes two separate processes:

  • Android service;
  • The User Interface as a floating assistant or “avatar” that looks like a dog. The avatar shows different emotions, such as happy, sad or sleepy, and the resident can interact with it.

In the previous version of the app, the avatar also looked like a dog, but it was large, taking up the entire screen. To make this assistant more flexible, we decided to make it a floating window, so that now the person can open any other program on their device, but the GeriJoy dog remains on top.

The resident can talk with an avatar through a webcam. Sound is streamed over the internet to a live GeriJoy Health Advocate, who responds instantly through a text-to-speech system. Audio, video streaming and client-server communication goes via real time communication protocols. One issue was how to implement one of the protocols on Android, as there are just few libraries available. So we had to use a paid service.

The app was also tweaked to make sure that the internet connection is continuous. The application monitors the state of the network and when there is an issue, such as with the WiFi, it switches to 3G and the session continues without interruption. When there is no internet connection, the app just stops working, but as soon as the internet is up again, the system connects to the app and continues the session. This makes it possible to continue a session instead of starting over again and losing data. 

Technologies&Tools

  • Coding language: Java
  • Protocols: real time communication protocols
  • Servers: A/V streaming server

The Benefits

Softjourn developed an Android app for taking care of seniors. The benefits of the new app include:

The floating assistant remains on the top of all other open windows on the tablet. This allows the resident to have the avatar available while doing other things at the same time, such as watching videos.
The internet connection is uninterrupted, which keeps the session going even when there are some issues with the connection.
Live video streaming uses A/V streaming server, allowing real-time interaction between the senior and their avatar.

"This project helps us to demonstrate the idea of our next generation product, which opens up opportunity to a more tech-savvy population." - Shuo Deng, Co-Founder and CTO at GeriJoy

 

Partnership & Recognition

Top 100
Intix
Microsoft Gold Partner
Xamarin
Monax
Inc 5000

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