Beth Nolan, PhD, Assistant Professor of BCHS, and her colleagues from Advanced Medical Electronics, Corp (AME, Corp) in Minneapolis, MN, were awarded two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants in partnership with the National Institute on Aging (NIA). The SBIR program is designed to support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of Federal research funds to encourage small businesses to engage in product development that has the potential for commercialization.
The first grant is focused on using facial recognition technology to assist older adults with mild cognitive impairment or other forms of early dementia in the recollection of the names of friends and family. A small web-camera, mounted in a pin or brooch, is connected to a blue-tooth enabled watch. When a pre-programmed person enters the camera frame, the wearer's watch will vibrate and display the person's face, name and relationship to the wearer. This product will be tested with loved-one/caregiver dyads over the next few months.
The second grant is focused on the development of a secure, personalized, reminiscence database for long-term care residents with dementia. Reminiscence tools have long been proven as a means of decreasing behavioral disturbances in this population, however, it is difficult for busy staff caregivers to acquire and retain knowledge of each resident's personal life experiences. Further, multiple sources of information, such as the patient’s siblings, friends, and children, may be needed to form a more complete set of useful data. The proposed tool will edit together life history stories, audio, pictures and video from multiple sources. It will enable current and future staff caregivers secure, touchpad accessibility for use in the care and therapy of each resident.