Designer Jake's hi-tech memory aid could help those with dementia

A designer from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has taken advice from people with dementia to design an advanced memory aid which could help those with the condition.

Coming into the final year of his Product Design course, Jake Paisley hit on the idea of creating a tool which would act as a memory aid for people with dementia.

Jake (2)

Inspired by the Amazon Echo – a voice-activated home hub which can play music and give news or other information – Jake began working out a design for a device which could act as a memory aid for people with forms of dementia, symptoms of which include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language.

The smart unit could help people find which room their keys are in, give them information about what time and day it is and about the weather. It can also ensure their oven is used safely, communicating with a sensor on the oven trip an alarm when cooking time is up and informing a family member or friend if the oven is left on for long periods of time.

Jake (1)

To make his design stand out – and to make it as relevant and engaging as possible for the intended audience – Jake talked to Chris Knifton, senior lecturer in dementia at DMU.

He encouraged Jake to attend regular meetings with Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK members – held on campus at DMU – to get their feedback on the design.

Jake said: “I saw that DMU held dementia awareness classes so I booked myself onto one of those and found out a lot about the different types of dementia and the kind of problems people who have the illness face.

“I saw from research that there were quite a few products aimed at people in the middle to late stages of dementia but not that much for people in the early period.”

Jake’s design uses an artificial intelligence housed inside a vase-like pod, activated by a simple button. The uses of the button can be pre-programmed keeping things simple for the user. The unit features a screen which can display useful information.

Jake said: “I chose yellow and black for the screen text as a result of advice given to me at the dementia meetings – these are the clearest colours for people with the condition because of the high contrast.

“The design has changed and improved so much from these discussions. They’ve been essential – that kind of feedback is so helpful and it’s not easy to find but it’s right here at DMU.”

Jake is submitting the design as his final year project and will then be looking to secure investment to bring it to the market.

He is discussing the design at DMU’s first dementia conference, taking place on Wednesday, May 17 as part of Dementia Awareness Week at DMU.

Posted on Wednesday 17th May 2017

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