Young Prizewinners Help People With Dementia

Apr 25 2014, 5:31pm CDT | by

If you needed any proof that George Bernard Shaw was wrong when he said “youth is wasted on the young,” meet the student winners of the Stanford Center on Longevity’s Design Challenge.

Their mission was to devise products and services to “maximize independence for those with cognitive impairment.” (I wrote about the seven finalists when they were named in January; the three winners were announced on April 10.)

New Ideas for Older People

Stanford and its Challenge partner Aging 2.0 (an organization aiming to accelerate innovation to improve the lives of older adults) received submissions from 52 teams in 15 countries.

(MOREBringing Someone With Dementia Back to Life)

Coming up with ways to help the elderly suffering from dementiaAlzheimer’s and other forms of cognitive impairment might not seem a natural for students in their 20s and 30s.

“I’m relatively young compared to my target user,” said Sha Yao, the first place winner who received a $10,000 prize for the Eat Well tableware she designed at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. “My other classmates were working on sexy consumer products and they’d say, ‘I don’t get it. Why are you working on this?’”

First Place: Eat Well

Yao didn’t let them deter her. Inspired by her grandmother with Alzheimer’s, she came up with a why-didn’t-anyone-think-of-this-before 7-piece set of dishes, bowls and cups whose color and shapes were specially-designed for those with cognitive impairment.

The inside of the bowls are blue because people with dementia can get confused when their food and bowl have similar colors. Yao saw a Boston University study that suggested if she changed the color of tableware to red or blue, someone with Alzheimer’s will eat 24% more food, on average, and drink 84% more liquid.

Her bowls have slanted bottoms to avoid spills that often arise with normal bowls when users tip them to get all their food. The cups are hard to knock over and also have rubber mats and extended handles that act as stabilizers.

(MORESuddenly the Tech World Loves People Over 50)

Yao, who now runs Sha Design in San Francisco, is working on manufacturing her Eat Well set and selling it to nursing homes and day care centers. That, she says, would be her gift to her late grandmother.

“I want to tell my grandmother that she helped many people,” said Yao.

Juliet Holt-Klinger, vice president of dementia care at Brookdale Senior Living — one of the Design Challenge judges — thinks that’ll happen. “I have 6,500 residents who eat three times a day. That’s over 19,000 times each day that your design could help people just in our facilities,” she told Yao at the finals.

Second Place: Taste+

A student team from the National University of Singapore led by Huabin Kok took home second place and a $5,000 prize for Taste+. It’s a spoon that electrically stimulates taste buds to make food yummier for people with diminished taste sensation, as is true for many with cognitive impairment./>/>

With Taste+, the user taps a button on the spoon to get a salty or sour flavor, instead of adding salt (which could lead to heart problems).

“A digital taste is a fairly new concept, people are usually very curious about how it works and a little skeptical about placing electronics in their mouths,” said Huabin. “However, after they tried out the prototype, they were quite surprised by the outcome.”

One major drawback: At the moment, Taste+ isn’t able to deliver a sweet sensation strongly, but the team is working on that.

Third Place: Memory Maps

The $2,000 third place award went to Ritika Mathur and other students at the Copenhagen Institute of Design for Memory Maps. It uses an RFID reader, a map of the neighborhood and GPS technology to let people with early-stage cognitive issues record memories about places they’ve been.

“Our goal was not to bring back what’s gone,” said Mathur, “but to find out what is still there and nourish and cherish that.”

The team plans to build a few Memory Map devices and embark on a pilot launch in homes and healthcare facilities in the United States, Denmark, India and Taiwan soon, ultimately getting to market next spring.

“Memory Maps touched everyone’s emotions,” said Ken Smith, director of Mobility at the Stanford Center on Longevity and one of the organizers of the Design Challenge.

Next Year’s Design Challenge

Smith said the judging of the finals was harder than he expected. “The scores were close across the board. I think that’s indicative of how strong the finalists were overall,” he added.

The 2014-2015 Stanford Design Challenge will switch from a focus on cognitive issues to physical ones. Its topic: “Enabling Personal Mobility Across the Life Span.”

Smith said that means judges will be looking for ideas for products and services that offer, for example, ways to motivate more physical activity among aging individuals, make that activity easier or help people experiencing physical limitations remain active.

I can’t wait to see what the students come up with.

Richard Eisenberg is the senior Web editor of the Money & Security and Work & Purpose channels of Next Avenue and Assistant Managing Editor for the site. Follow him on Twitter@richeis315.

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Mummy wearing jewellery unearthed in Egypt
London, Nov 23 (IANS) Spanish archaeologists have discovered about 4,000 years old female mummy wearing rare jewellery in Egypt.
 
 
Exercise and fasting could boost brain's functions
Washington, Nov 23 (IANS) Exercise along with occasional fasting is good for boosting the brain's neurons, shows a new research.
 
 
One infant dies in Pakistan hospital
Islamabad, Nov 23 (IANS) One more infant died due to lack of oxygen in an incubator and negligence of the hospital administration in Pakistan, bringing the number of such deaths to 19 in the past five days.
 
 
American whiskey faces challenge in whisky-gulping India
Washington, Nov 23 (IANS) For the most part Indians love things American, but when it comes to their tipple, the world's largest whisky drinkers usually go for Scotch or their very own home-made brands.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Benedict Cumberbatch's hope for new fiancee
Benedict Cumberbatch thinks his fans will like his fiancee. The 'Imitation Game' star - who recently revealed he was engaged to Sophie Hunter - believes his loyal fans will love his future bride because they love him....
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kate Hudson plans birthday presents
Kate Hudson plans her mother's birthday presents years in advance. The 'Almost Famous' star has revealed that she had been planning for years what present to get her mother, Goldie Hawn, for her 69th birthday, which...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Boko Haram kills 48 Nigerian fishermen
Abuja, Nov 23 (IANS) Members of Nigeria's armed terrorist group Boko Haram have killed 48 people in an attack on fish sellers near the border with Chad, a media report said Sunday. The attack took place Thursday, but...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
45 killed in Afghanistan suicide attack
Kabul, Nov 23 (IANS) At least 45 people were killed and 60 wounded Sunday in a suicide bomb attack at a volleyball ground in Afghanistan's Paktika province, officials said. "Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Switzerland win Davis Cup
Lille (France), Nov 23 (IANS) Switzerland defeated France 3-1 to win the 2014 Davis Cup final at the indoor clay courts of the Stade Pierre Mauroy here Sunday. It is Switzerland's first title at the prestigious event...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Iggy Pop tries to twerk
Iggy Pop enjoys twerking around his house. The 67-year-old musician has said he was ''proud'' when Debbie Harry made comments earlier this year saying he had been twerking for his whole life. In an interview with The...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Olly Murs still gets starstruck
Olly Murs still gets starstruck. The 'Wrapped Up' singer has met his fair share of celebrities since appearing on 'The X Factor' in 2009, but confessed he still feels jittery when he meets people he really admires such...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
John Mayer helped Katherine Heigl to get husband to commit
Katherine Heigl used John Mayer to convince her husband to commit to her. The 'State of Affairs' star - who has been married to Josh Kelley since December 2009 - has admitted that she threatened her now-husband to...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Baby boy for Kourtney Kardashian?
Kourtney Kardashian is believed to be having a baby boy. The 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians' star - who is currently pregnant with her third child by Scott Disick - was reportedly spotted stocking up on blue outfits...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Mila Kunis: Jupiter Ascending was like boot camp
Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum ''got in trouble'' for losing too much weight filming 'Jupiter Ascending'. The 31-year-old actress - who has two-month-old daughter Wyatt with fiancé Ashton Kutcher - admits the futuristic...
Read more on Movie Balla