No more missing jumpers: Deakin researchers invent SmartBag with ECEC applications
There are few early childhood education and care (ECEC) educators who don’t have a story to share about an angry parent or distraught child who has misplaced their jumper, socks, shoes, dummy or comfort toy.
The loss of items which are lovingly packed for children attending care each day can be a high stress pain-point for educators and families alike – or at least it was, up until now.
Engineers from Deakin University have developed a “new generation” bag, which can complete its own morning checklist using built-in hardware and software that works to ensure it is packed correctly for each day’s timetable, including books, lunch and sports gear – or jumpers, bottles and formula.
It also has the capability to send content alerts by smartphone to children, parents and educators.
The bag’s technology allows it to sense when items are not required and should be left home, ensuring the bag is no heavier than it needs to be.
Designed by Dr Hamid Abdi, and Masters students Jayadev Ajayakumar, Naga Venkata Durga Surendra Anna and Lahiru Abeysekara, the smart school bag uses radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to detect items in the bag and the Internet of Things (IOT) technology to check its contents against the daily plan issued by the school or ECEC site.
“We know packing the school bag each morning can be difficult, especially for younger children, because the timetable changes daily and each day they need to pack different things,” Dr Abdi said, outlining the role that such a bag may play in preparing and supporting children for the transition to school.
“A mobile application developed in this project lets parents see the items in the bag and automatically checks them off against the timetable, identifying what is missing and notifies parents if anything else needs to be packed.
“We think the bag will save a lot of time and stress that occurs when items are left home by mistake, especially if that requires parents to quickly race home to collect the missing item.”
While the system can be fitted to any bag, Dr Abdi and his team have designed a prototype smart bag that includes the smart phone application and could retail for between $125 and $150, which Dr Abdi says makes it an affordable option for many families.
“We are now at the demonstration stage and looking for commercial partners to take this project to the next level,” Dr Abdi said.