Engineering students create app for those with dementia
When a relative or friend visits, the app displays photos as a reminder of the connection.
A new smartphone app created by students at Cornell University is designed to help people with dementia stay connected to their memories, family and friends.
Remember Me was developed by engineering master's degree graduates Karthik Venkataramaiah, Vishal Kumkar, Shivananda Pujeri and Mihir Shah at the Ithaca, NY, school.
The app is designed to be installed on the phones of the person with dementia as well as the phones of his or her friends, family and caregivers. Using GPS tracking and a connection to the internet “cloud,” the app flashes an alert to the person with dementia when one of the group members is nearby. The alert indicates who is approaching and his or her relationship, and it displays a slideshow of related, previously uploaded pictures. If the person with dementia receives a text message or phone call from someone registered in the app, then a screen pops up with similar information.
“In anyone with a memory loss, the first thing you do is to show them pictures and see if they are able to get back the memories,” Venkataramaiah said.
Once a conversation begins, the app can assist those present with reminders based on stored facts and previous conversations, perhaps suggesting questions to ask based on information it has stored about life events.
Caregivers can send medication reminders, make phone calls or complete particular tasks, and they can use the GPS feature to locate their loved one who has dementia.
The students developed the app after consulting for approximately a month with people who have friends or relatives with dementia. Some of those people tried early versions of the app and provided suggestions for additional features. One planned feature would remind the person with dementia of important life events with a “call this person” suggestion.
Remember Me currently is available only for smartphones that use the Android operating system, but the students are developing a version for the iPhone.