MIT Students Solve Resident Safety Issue with an iPad Application

groupShot “(Margaret’s story) motivated us to think of a better, more accessible technology to call for help,” explains Beth Hadley an MIT senior in the Principles and Practices of Assistive Technology (PPAT) course. In one semester Beth and her project teammates, Laura D’Aquila and Tanya Talkar developed a solution, InstaAid.

InstaAid is an iOS application for iPads with two interfaces. One for residents to call for help using their wheelchair-mounted  iPads, the other to alert nurses via an iPad located at the nurses’ station on each residential floor.  The nurse is able to respond quickly, assess the call and dispatch the appropriate staff.

Mobile and independent, most residents have access to The Home’s large three floor building and spacious grounds and are often far from the traditional call button when they need aid. Using InstaAid they are able ask for water, help from a nurse or to signal an emergency can be communicated in custom messages or via video chat. Custom adjustments to the system accommodate resident’s with special limitations.

“We found it was critical to work directly with the users, both the residents and the staff, to receive real time feedback. “  This helped us adjust our process as we developed InstaAid,” Beth commented.

The three students began developing the project in September of 2014. By the end of the fall semester the application had been tested on the iPads of two residents with promising results. Beth Hadley has returned this spring to transform the beta application into a system that is both useful to iPad users at The Boston Home – a growing group of 33 — but also robust enough to be useful to a wide audience beyond the Home.

Beth adds “The Boston Home is technologically innovative and receptive to supporting the development of new technologies. My hope is that the success of my work can be used to demonstrate to future students that the projects they begin in a class can indeed make an impact on people’s lives. I am constantly inspired by residents and staff of The Boston Home and I plan to continue MIT’s history of collaborating with TBH.”