While there is no cure for dementia yet, there are ways to make everyday life easier for people with the disease.
A talented young group from Drogheda, Ireland, spent their time during the novel coronavirus quarantine developing a support tool for that purpose. Meet Rachael Akano, Margaret Akano, and Joy Njekwe, the creators of Memory Haven!
This year, Rachael, 16, Margaret, 17, and Joy, 17, put their heads together for Technovation Girls, an international competition that encourages young women to create an app that solves a community problem.
The inspiration for their project came from Evelyn Nomayo, their mentor and the founder of Phase Innovate, an organization that trains women and other underrepresented communities for careers in the tech industry. Sadly, her mother had dementia and died earlier this year.
“She used to be a seamstress, but she couldn’t do it anymore,” Evelyn told NPR. “So some of my experiences that I had with her, the team translated into technology to help others.”
To complete their project, the Nigerian-Irish coders designed an app to support both people with dementia and their caregivers.
Its features include task reminders, photo albums, memory games, a call button to reach family members and carers, and face and voice recognition to help users recognize their loved ones. The teens even included a music tool that curates playlists based on moods detected from facial recognition!
Out of 1,500 submissions from 62 countries, they won! Technovation announced the Senior Division grand prize winners in August — and the girls celebrated with an adorable freak-out!
The winning moment pic.twitter.com/oaNsEWQhsx— Phase Innovate (@nomayo_evelyn) August 14, 2020
Congratulations, Rachael, Margaret, and Joy! Not only will your app make a big difference to people with dementia, but it is also proving that women, especially those of color, belong in the tech industry!
Evelyn couldn’t be happier to welcome more in! “Whether I’m working or being educated, it’s so obvious that there’s a shortage of women in this space,” she said. “So I just felt it: There was a need to bring more girls and people of color into that space.”
Memory Haven will hit app stores this month, so be sure to keep an eye out if you have a loved one with dementia!
In the meantime, check out how Memory Haven works in the video below, and share this story with other people who could use the app.
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