How Do I? app improves healthspan by replacing lost memories

Crowdsourcing ideas programme delivers winning app How Do I? for independent living.

A smartphone app designed to take the place of vanished memories has won £100,000 worth of funding from the UK’s Alzheimer’s Society [1].

The funding will help the team behind the How Do I? app bring the product to the marketplace and was announced at the Alzheimer’s Society’s annual conference after winning its crowdsourcing ideas programme.

Longevity.Technology: This app is a great first step towards enabling independent living in a population that is living longer while confronting the risk of dementia and neurodegenerative diseases. Those with elderly relatives that witness them trying to use a smartphone, having first found their glasses to read the small text, will realise that there is a limit to how practical screen-based apps can be. Our team believe that voice interactions with systems like Amazon’s Alexa are the scalable way forward.

The TRL score for this Longevity.Technology domain is currently set at: ‘Technology has completed initial trials and demonstrates preliminary safety data.’

The TRL score for the technology addressed in this article is: ‘Technology completes secondary trials and provides further evidence for safety and efficacy.’

The How Do I? app works by allowing the Alzheimer’s sufferer’s friends, family and carers to record names and details of family photographs as well as providing instructions and checklists for daily household tasks. This aims to promote independent living by ensuring sufferers can turn on the heating, make a cup of tea or run the dishwasher, as well as prompting them to take a bath or remember their medication.

The app combines a creative element, that allows the user to record the video and a player element which uses contactless technology to enable the user to scan a sticker on an object which then plays an associated video showing the instructions. Users can scroll back and forward through the video, ensuring maximum usefulness.

How Do I? are recruiting 15 participants to road-test the app, with the aim of improving its interface and the experience for the user. Co-founder and CEO of How Do I?, Taryl Law, said: “This app helps with things that are important to people affected by dementia and their loved ones. They want to be able to cook for themselves for longer, take care of personal care for longer, or create a video diary to be able to see what they’ve done in the day, looking at where they have been and who they have been with [2].”

The app launch coincided with figures released by the Alzheimer’s Society that reveal that the number of dementia sufferers living alone is going to double over the next 20 years to nearly 250,000 [3]. Speaking about How Do I?, Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Technology and innovation has the power to transform lives, and we want to harness this power for the 850,000 people living with dementia across the UK. While we work tirelessly to find a cure for this devastating disease, technologies like How do I?’ can help improve care and lives for everyone living with dementia today. Through assistive technology we can transform our understanding of how to best manage dementia [4].”

Pushing for more research into dementia, Paola Barbarino, CEO of Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), said: “Dementia is the biggest killer in the UK, and the fifth biggest globally. There are 50 million people living with dementia worldwide, with someone developing dementia every 3 seconds [5].”

Image: Eakvoraseth /
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