Teens win prize with app for people with dementia | Inquirer Technology
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‘Memory Haven’, an app developed by teens to help people with dementia

/ 05:57 PM October 06, 2020
20201006 'Memory Haven' dementia app

According to the World Health Organization via the Health Service Executive, 55,000 people suffer from dementia in Ireland while on the planet the count is around 50 million in 2020. Image: IStock/adamkaz via AFP Relaxnews.

“Memory Haven” is not on the market yet, but the application, aimed at people suffering from dementia, recently won a prize at a prestigious international technology competition, beating out 1,500 other entries.

From calls to contacts, games and music, this application encompasses everything a dementia sufferer would need to lead a more normal life. And it was designed and coded by three young women.

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It all started when the three adolescents’ mentor’s mother was diagnosed with dementia.

“We found out that dementia is not only a huge problem in Ireland but in fact globally,” explained Margaret Akano, 17, to the BBC. She is one of the three Nigerian-Irish teens involved in this project.

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“Our mentor’s mother actually passed away because of dementia. So it just seemed right to do an app to help,” explained Rachael Akano, 15, to the same channel.

“She used to be a seamstress so she would teach people how to sew,” said Evelyn Nomayo about her mother. “But because of dementia, she wasn’t able to even sew anymore.”

Nomayo created Phase Innovate, a non-profit organization that aims at bridging the gender and race gap in tech fields. This was how she got to know the young coders.

With Joy Njekwe, 17, the teens developed the multi-feature application to tackle daily life for people with dementia. “Memory Haven” allows the patient’s important contacts to be centralized in case of an emergency, to program alarms and to have access to health monitoring.

The app offers six main features in total. It also allows users to listen to music depending on their mood thanks to facial recognition. A picture gallery and fun puzzle games are also available to help delay the effects of the disease on the brain.

The three young women received the top prize at the latest Technovation World Summit, which saw 1,500 projects submitted from over 60 countries. This international competition aims to encourage young women to use STEM (science, technology, engineering and technology) to tackle community problems.

Their application may just be available in the near future. Rachel, Joy and Margaret hope their design and coding project will help those with dementia and that it will also encourage young women to take part in new initiatives in the field of STEM. CC

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TOPICS: dementia, elderly, Memory Haven, mobile applications, Technovation World Summit
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