A Siri-like app, developed by current and former Dalhousie students, to assist older people and those with dementia to recall information easily and independently using artificial intelligence has recently been awarded $25,000 investment at a national ideathon competition.
Back in October, AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence and HACKING HEALTH hosted the culmination of a Canada-wide competition to identify and invest in new technologies and services to support healthy aging. The Dalhousie-based team, MyMem placed second in the national initiative.
MyMem is the creation of alumnus Eric Fisher (PhD Biochemistry & Molecular Biology ’13) and current Master of Applied Computer Science program students Harish Gopinath, Arun Athisamy, and Aishwarya Ravichandran.
“We wanted to develop a solution for dementia sufferers and their families to makes things easier for those suffering from memory loss, their caregivers and families,” said Ravichandran.
“Through AI based personalized voice command, MyMem helps people living with dementia recall information quickly and independently, and hold onto memories and experiences. It will enable users to access important information and photos by voice command, requiring very little proficiency with technology. We hope the app will be fun to use as well as helpful and believe this could change the way disorders such as dementia are approached.”
MyMem’s recent accomplishment follows first-place success earlier this year at HACKING HEALTH HALIFAX in March, and Nova Scotia Sandboxes Introduction to Innovation Bootcamp in May.
The team is based out of innovation sandbox ShiftKey Labs in the Goldberg Computer Science Building, where they have benefitted from the expertise of lab manager, Grant Wells.
“MyMem have shown real potential since the idea was first conceptualized earlier this year,” says Wells. “The app could have a huge impact on people’s lives and the way in which health professionals deal with dementia, related disorders and those living with them.”
AGE-WELL (Canada’s Technology and Aging Network) teamed up with the global initiative HACKING HEALTH in 2016 to launch the healthy-aging ideathon competition. More than 300 people took part in the four local ideathons which brought together entrepreneurs, researchers, post-secondary students, older adults, caregivers and others to work towards solutions that will produce social and economic benefits. Seven projects were selected to proceed to the final round.
An ideathon is a collaborative, workshop-like event where diverse stakeholders harness their collective knowledge and creativity to brainstorm innovative solutions to pressing challenges. Participants use user-centric design techniques and methodologies (such as ideation, journey mapping and prototyping), and the creation of an initial business case, to propose a novel solution.
Following this recent win, MyMem are looking ahead and moving forward with tailoring the app to better serve customers.
“Our investment will make a huge difference in how we can continue to innovate and develop the best product possible for users,” Harish Gopinath says. “We are hoping to go public with the app in 2018 and the investment of support and money we have received so far will really help to make this happen.”