PAT system helps homeless people keep their appointments
November 26, 2012
Homeless people face a multitude of challenges daily, which can make keeping even important appointments very difficult. A new project, dubbed the “Personal Appointment Ticketing service” (or PAT), hopes to make this easier with a new inexpensive method of printing out personalized appointment cards.
The PAT system consists of an internet-connected base station which is powered by a Raspberry Pi computer and contains a small thermal printer. When presented with a plastic wristband, which is unique to each person and contains an RFID tag, the base station connects to an online database to glean the relevant schedule information, then prints out a personalized reminder.
The reminder may consist of a message like “Remember doctor's appointment Wednesday, 1.30 pm,” for example. Further base stations could be placed at key places like homeless shelters or aid agencies.
“We hope this tool will help people make more appointments because they have access to a different type of reminder system, and lead to improvement in quality of life," said medical biologist Dr Rod Dillon, who is leading Patchworks.
The PAT project was developed during an 8-month research project led by Lancaster University and the MadLab hacking collective as part of a project named Patchworks, which seeks to explore the health and communication needs of homeless people in the surrounding area.
Patchworks itself belongs to a larger scheme called Catalyst, a £1.9 million (roughly US$3 million) venture funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPRSC), which brings communities and academics together, with the aim of creating tools for social change.
PAT will be launched November 28 at The Midland Hotel, Morecambe, at which time people will be able to hear more about the project and see the prototype in action.
The video below details the project further.