Prototype for digital music box. Image: Soud Nassir

Dementia projects win local and international recognition

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Ideas from UTS students have won local and international recognition for their capacity to assist the growing numbers of people with dementia.

Organisation/s: University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

Media Release

From: University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

Ideas from UTS students have won local and international recognition for their capacity to assist the growing numbers of people with dementia.

Dementia heads the list of diseases anticipated to grow exponentially as the global population ages.

This is focusing interest in ways to support people with dementia and their families and carers, as cognitive impairment progresses from mild (occasional memory lapse) to severe (need for 24-hour personal care), and to address symptoms such as loss of  language, memory, motivation and mobility.

Siva Leela Krishna Chand Gudi is a PhD student in social robotics at the UTS Magic Lab; his best friend Ashish Rauniyar, is a PhD fellow at the University of Oslo, working on autonomous systems. Together, from afar, they hatched an idea for an award-winning dementia resource.

Their dementia smart wristwatch won the Norwegian Challenge of the 2017 European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) and represented Norway in the Europe-wide innovation competition during European Space Week 2017.

The watch is designed to prevent injuries due to fall detection sensors which can also activate an airbag on a wearable device protecting the head and hips, has real-time geotracking of patients in a predefined area, and sends alerts to caregivers if patients leave that area. An embedded LoRa geolocation solution in the watch supports both in- and outdoor tracking to extend the area.

The UTS Student Prototype Exhibition is an outstanding annual showcase for innovative ideas being developed by undergraduate students across university.

The exhibition featured responses to a specific project, Dementia Futures, where School of Software students in the subject Prototyping Physical Interaction explored designs to assist in everyday aspects of dementia. Students worked with dementia experts including designers and researchers working in design for dementia, health-care professionals and neuropsychologists. 

The interactive music box developed by Adam Bursull, Dylan Hardaker and Michael Zanbak was joint first place getter for its brain-training ability to boost memory. (See the video on You Tube)

They used their programming skills to make a digital version of a music box which also incorporates some of the elements of a ‘whack-a-mole’ type game, in this case where a physical response to a flashing light plays a tone.  If followed in sequence, the program plays Beethoven’s ‘Für Elise’. The musci box promtoes a brain healthy lifestyle that reduces the impact of dementia-related sympthoms and propsees positive effetcs for memory recall

None of the team had/have much musical knowledge – but were able to create a library of 88 notes based on a standard keyboard.  Their design also incorporates a crank to resemble a traditional music box, and can be programmed to play different songs from different genres.

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