SUPPORT: Hackathon tackles Dementia

SUPPORT: Hackathon tackles Dementia


In a period of high tech and innovative ideas it is welcoming to see what transpired at an event hosted by Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone. Students, computer programmers, healthcare professionals and technology enthusiasts all came together and tackled the challenges facing individuals with dementia. The following, written by Calvin Dao and Andrea Vacillate outline a couple of the best entries.

“The software building competition — dubbed DementiaHack — was organized by the nonprofit programming organization HackerNest and the British Consulate-General in Toronto. The hackathon brought skilled people with an interest in developing technologies to make the lives of those living with dementia and caregivers easier.

The grand prize was awarded to the team behind an app called CareUmbrella.

Powered by Near Field Communication (NFC) connectivity, it allows patients of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease to call up specific information on their phone by tapping it on an NFC-enabled sticker. This technology comes at the cost of just cents per sticker, according to Hayman Buwan, a physician who came up with the idea three years ago.

They demonstrated CareUmbrella by tapping their phone onto a sticker coded to bring up an instructional video on how to use a microwave.

One factor that he and his team kept in mind was the importance of letting patients be independent, regardless of their disease’s limitations.

Nitin Malik, an iOS developer who has a family member with dementia, won a runner-up prize with his team for a hardware innovation they called All the Pi.

It uses a single-board computer to play audio reminders to remind patients to complete tasks and sends push notifications to caregivers if a task was not complete at the usual time. For example, when a light switch with this system is turned on, a programmable recording is played reminding them to turn off the light.” -By Calvin Dao and Andrea Vacl

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