What is it?
An online platform to help disabled people access support more easily. PlanHub allows a user to host their emergency information as well as information from their different support services in a profile accessed through a digitally connected wearable.
How does it work?
The PlanHub platform allows users to easily link their information with various statutory services through a user profile.The user can choose exactly what information the system holds about them and what people will see when their profile is accessed.
This profile is unlocked through a wearable containing a lightweight Near Field Communication Chip (NFC) that can be read by touching it to an Android or Windows mobile device, or through a PlanHub Windows Static Reader.
Who’s behind it?
Simon Howard and Matt Howard.
PlanHub aims to make life easier for disabled people by connecting support services that traditionally work in silos. As creator Simon states, “It’s about breaking down those barriers and linking everybody together.”
The idea first occurred to Simon as a way to help people with communication needs like his brother Matt. Following an incident where Matt became separated from his PA, Simon created a wearable that would act as a key to emergency information, to allow someone to easily assist the wearer.
While the wearable is still core to the idea, it is the system that has evolved around it which sets PlanHub apart. New developments include an education section where you can set learning goals, a jobs section where disabled and non-disabled people can apply for roles in the care industry and beyond. “Anyone can use it, not just people with disabilities,” says Simon. “It’s actually a really inclusive piece of technology now.”
Following user testing, two additional wearable styles were added. And the team is now working with a jewellery maker to create a greater array of options. Currently, they are also prototyping different uses for the wearable, with Matt using it to unlock his motorized door system which they are prototyping at the moment.
Simon has used the Inclusive Technology Prize finalist funding to buy stock, as well as test the idea to help locate wearable wearers who are lost, through a system of location-aware sensors.
The plan for PlanHub is to get statutory services on board, and raise awareness about the platform through word of mouth. His ambition is for PlanHub to be used throughout the UK, for example enabling people to move across the country using the product to transfer information between different local authorities.
“I’m acutely aware that it’s not something that’s going to have that spectacular boom,” says Simon. “But the effect of it is going to be really profound… something that sits in the background and helps you live your life more easily.”
The aim of the Inclusive Technology Prize was to inspire technological innovation from individuals and small businesses to improve or develop assistive living aids, adaptations, products and systems that will make a real difference to the lives of disabled people.