Memory loss? There's an app for that

By John Murphy, MDLinx
Published August 5, 2016

Key Takeaways

People with age-related dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of memory loss can have difficulty remembering details, and even relationships, with friends and family. Now, a new smartphone app—Remember Me!—aims to help people with memory loss stay virtually connected to their memories, and therefore stay personally connected to their friends, family, and acquaintances.

Developed by four master’s degree engineering graduates at Cornell University, in Ithaca, NY, the app is installed on the phones of the patient as well as the patient’s friends, family, and caregivers. It uses the phone’s GPS, along with a connection to the cloud, to flash an alert when one of the patient’s contacts is nearby. The phone tells the patient who the visitor is, and displays a slideshow of previously uploaded pictures as a reminder of the patient’s relationship to that person.

Likewise, when a text or phone call comes in, the patient receives a similar notice and photo display to jog their memory.

“In anyone with a memory loss, the first thing you do is to show them pictures and see if they are able to get back the memories,” explained Karthik Venkataramaiah, one of the app’s developers.

On the other end of the line, caregivers can send the patient reminders to take medicine, make phone calls or complete particular tasks. If need be, they can use the GPS feature to locate the patient.

The Remember Me! app can also enhance a conversation by providing the patient with reminders based on stored facts and previous discussions. The developers plan to apply natural-language processing techniques to the patient’s speech patterns to suggest what the patient could say next.

They’re also planning a feature that would remind the patient of important life events with a “Call this person” suggestion.

In creating the app, the developers consulted with key individuals who care for friends or relatives with dementia. They recently demonstrated the app at the 123rd Annual Conference of the American Society for Engineering Education St. Lawrence Conference, held at Cornell University.

The developers plan to launch Remember Me! in the coming weeks. It will be available first as an Android app, but an iOS version is in development.

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