Welcome Home Hardware Prototype

Helping parents + kids connect.

The Idea

In many American families, both parents work. These job commitments result in 15.1 million children self-supervising after school. Lack of a parental influence can lead to loneliness, boredom, and make kids more susceptible to peer pressure. While the cultural systems that lead to unsupervised children are difficult to change, we can do more to encourage parental involvement remotely.

The Design

Welcome Home is a hardware prototype that uses ultrasonic sensors for low power obstacle detection. Welcome Home can be placed near a doorway and detect movement through that doorway. The system is activated when the distance to the nearest object falls below a predefined threshold. This change is transmitted wireless using Xbee to a computer, where the service sends an email notifying parents that the child has arrived at home. The parents can then engage with their kid to discuss dinner plans, homework, or chat about daily activities. The service can also detect when a child has not arrived at home on time. This helps parents feel secure in knowing whether their child has arrived home safely.

Future Thinking

This prototype could be extended through integration with other services. Children could use the device to make dinner requests. Welcome Home could also notify parents when children have left to visit a friend, or provide an always-on walky talky so that parents and children feel more connected while geographically separated.