Watch me! is a home finding Application for smart devices such as smartwatch and smartphone designed for people with early stage dementia and their caregivers. The concept is a follow up of the 'Homing Compass' device designed by dr.ir. Rens Brankaert. For more info: http://www.rensbrankaert.nl/?portfolio=homing-compass.
The 'Homing compass' design was evaluated in context with people with dementia through a prototype, the resulting paper can be found here: http://research.shu.ac.uk/design4health/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/D4H_de-Jong_Brankaert.pdf
The 'Homing Compass' (concept) was designed as a standalone device, and provided the starting point for the Watch me! App. The design team translated this concept into an easy to use smart device application, that is free for everyone and thereby easier to scale and more accessible.
Leaving home with the idea that you might get lost can be quite frightening. We aim for this app to enable people with dementia to go out by themselves. The Watch Me! App has been stripped down to just one functionality: to find your way back independently when lost. By keeping it simple, the person with dementia can still use the device on their own. This allows the caregiver some free time in their heavy 24/7 care duty, and provides them an opportunity to spend more quality time with their caregiver.
There are quite a few track & trace solutions on the market. Watch me! offers a unique human-centred perspective on the side of the person with dementia, and listened to the actual needs of the caregivers. It is not only tracking someone's whereabouts from a distance for mere controlling and safety functionality, which other providers often limit themselves to. Watch Me! enables a person with dementia to find their way back individually when getting lost, and by this overcome their fear of leaving the house. At the same time, it's reassuring for caregivers to keep a watchful eye on their loved ones if necessary. The Watch Me! Caregiver application allows them to see the location of the person with dementia, e.g. when they are out longer than expected or for example leave a pre-assigned area.
The images attached to this project show an impression of how the Watch Me! Application looks for both the person with dementia and the caregiver. The strength of the design is that it limits functionality, and can be personalized or adapted to the cognitive level of the person using it. Sometimes other products attempt this as well, but then forget to design ALSO a simple interface for the caregiver, whom are often busy or seniors themselves.
EARLY TEST RESULTS
When seeing the concept, some fundamental questions might arise. Such as: Is a person with dementia able to use such a system on their own? To address this, we conducted a small field study.
We conducted a field test with in-total eight people with (early stage) dementia. They were tasked to use the compass to walk to a random point A, point B and finally go home. As a result, seven out of eight participants managed to reach their destinations without significant help. Sometimes moments of confusion did occur, but this could be related to technical inconsistencies in the prototype. The device would point towards home in a birds-eye view. And, even faced with an ambiguous T-junction the participants showed no trouble in navigating around it. We often presume people with dementia have no abilities, hence the devices that are available on the market. By trusting in the skills people with dementia still have we can offer them all kind of solutions like the Watch Me! App.