Samsung Tomorrow, the Samsung Electronics Official Global Blog, reports that about a year ago Samsung Electronics Tunisia (SETN) marketing manager for mobile products Azer Jaafoura and several colleagues began developing a smartphone app for helping out Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) patients.
“We wanted to make life easier for Alzheimer’s patients as well as their caretakers, but we were initially unsure of how to go about doing this,” Azer is cited explaining, although, with a full-time job and already volunteering at a children’s hospital, he and his team were already short of spare time.
Azer notes that while Alzheimer’s is currently incurable, recent research has determined that mental stimulation, such as regular reminders of past events could potentially slow the disease’s progression, To preserve their memory, these individuals need reminders helping them to continuously connect to their memories, and that is where he and his development team saw an opportunity.
In cooperation with the Tunisian Alzheimers Association, SETN worked with 3SG/BBDO Tunisia, the Tunisian branch of the global advertising, brand development, event and business marketing, and web design firm 3SG BBDO to create a smartphone app called Backup Memory, which functions as a memory stimulator for persons with early stage (AD).
The app uses Bluetooth to search for other smartphones running the app, connecting to those devices when they’re within Bluetooth’s 10-meter (33 feet) radius wireless range. Once connected, Backup Memory displays information about the nearby person. Before using Backup Memory, relevant information and multimedia content must manually inputted or uploaded onto the app.
Backup Memory helps patients be more aware of their immediate surroundings by identifying nearby family members and friends, and it also reminds patients of the nature of their relationship with each person and memories shared in the past. Users can review their relationship status with nearby connected persons, along with memories, photos or videos related to them. This non-medical therapy continuously exposes the user to the past and helps stimulate memory.
Alzheimer’s patients can “remember” who they’re speaking to by checking their phone, thereby eliminating awkward and embarrassing hesitation as the Alzheimer’s sufferer struggles to recognize the person or persons they are speaking to.
Concurrent with SETN’s working with 3SG BBDO engineers on the app’s design and development, the Tunisian Alzheimer’s Association tested the app as development progressed in order to ensure that it would be useful for AD patients.
“We’ve had some Alzheimers patients try out Backup Memory, and we’ve seen good results,” Samsung Tomorrow quotes Dr. Meriam Labidi, a geriatrician and a member of the Tunisian Alzheimer’s Association observing. “With Alzheimer’s, what is lost is lost forever. Through cognitive stimulation, patients can hold onto their memory for a little longer and slow down Alzheimer’s devastating effect.”
Azer and his colleagues are already working on upgrading the app, adding additional features and refining the user interface. One expected new feature will rely on a smartphone’s GPS signal to provide family members with their loved one’s real-time location.
“Backup Memory is not exactly a technological breakthrough,” Azer tells Samsung Tomorrow, “but it is definitely a good use of existing technology. We are satisfied with the progress so far, but we’d like to do more. There is so much good you can do with technology, and I’d like to think that we’re just getting started.”
Backup Memory is available in English and French and can be downloaded through Google Play
Samsung Electronics Tunisia (SETN)
Tunisian Alzheimers Association