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Conpago and the Messaging Kettle (Updated, Refinement questions, software demo, feedback and findings from user testing. 24/12/17)

Working to keep elderly people connected with their friends, family, carers and loved ones.

Photo of Marley Brown
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it better support family caregivers as they care for a loved one with dementia?

Our product is designed for an entire family network to use with the key beneficiaries being the primary caregivers and elderly user. It is a way to enable passive communication using existing daily routines, or habituated appliances such as a kettle. Because it uses existing routines it can also be a reliable way of passively monitoring if an elderly user has been active.

Conpago is an IoT device that integrates with existing routine objects, such as a kettle, or coffee machine. When the appliance is in use, a connected device in a loved one's home will glow. When a user sees the glowing light from Conpago, it triggers a memory and acts as a passive way to maintain regular contact with a friend or loved one through existing daily routine. In a way this allows users to share the experience of having a cup of tea together while being in different locations.  


This simple concept allows for multiple benefits to both the elderly user, caregiver and family. Because the product connects to existing daily routine, all users do not need to learn new technology to remain connected. It is also able to be used as a passive monitoring but notifying caregivers and family members that an elderly user has been active which they can check through a mobile application. This relieves the caregiver of having to constantly check in with an elderly user and also relieves them as being the often only social interaction that the elderly person gets. 


With more than half of aged care residents showing symptoms of depression preventing a premature induction into aged care is fundamental for the well being of seniors. Key reasons for entering into care have been identified as social isolation and fear of undetected accidents. Social isolation has been outlined in multiple research papers as a growing health concern, the impact of which is equal to smoking 15 cigarettes a day or obesity. Improving social connection not only has a positive impact mentally, but also has a physical impact and has been proven to prolong life. Additionally to social implications, the ability to detect and send alerts in the case of an accident is equally as important in supporting ageing in place. The majority of senior emergency alarms such as medical alert pendants fail as they are easily forgotten or lost. Independent studies have concluded that the average time an elderly person spends on the floor following a fall is 15 hours. This makes our project imperative because it not only has the potential to allow seniors to remain in their homes longer but also has the ability to save lives through the early passive detection of emergencies. 

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We have been working on our functional prototype and have established connections with two large aged care providers to help test our prototypes and find out how effective they are. We are working closely with these two aged care providers in South East Queensland as well as a research team at the Queensland University of Technology to run user testing and feedback sessions with elderly users to sculpt the product into something that will be easily adopted.

What skills, input, or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

We see OpenIDEO as a great platform to bring to light many of the issues faced by this community, and in doing so, provide a network of like minded people to help create solutions, enable aging in place, and break down the stigma of aging. The greater community will see long term benefits as well, with a load taken off healthcare systems and aged care providers as the solutions created off the back of this program begin to alleviate people's dependence, and provides them with autonomy

How long has your idea existed?

  • Over 1 year

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm

Tell us about your work experience:

Our ever expanding team has an array of experience from health and fitness, software engineering, user experience, business and design. We all share a passion for innovation and problem solving. We work closely with professionals from the aged care sector find their sore points and create solutions.

How would you describe this idea while in an elevator with someone?

Loneliness is amongst the elderly community, has been outlined in multiple research papers as a growing health concern, with one in three people over the age of 65 being considered isolated and alone. Isolation can be a major driver that increases the effects of dementia. We are working on a digital solution to keep them connected with their families and loved ones

How does your idea demonstrate our Criteria of Accessibility?

Conpago has redesigned the Companion in order to achieve greater accessibility for caregivers. The Conpago Companion now fits any existing tablet available on the market. This lowers the cost to caregiver and dementia sufferer. Through the new design, we have been able reduced the cost by 50%, allowing greater affordability to end users.

How does your idea demonstrate or plan to demonstrate scalability?

The Conpago Companion will have corresponding apps downloadable on any iOS or Android device, allowing any number of caregivers or family members to interact with the dementia patient. This device can be effective for caregivers with loved ones at an early stage of dementia, allowing for ageing in place through the device's passive monitoring ability. This same device has already caught the attention of nursing homes aiming to a reduce invasive checkups on their permanent residential patients.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

Conpago is focusing heavily on the user feedback from end users, especially caregivers of individuals the early to mid stages of dementia. This is the primary way we plan to measure the impact of our idea, since our goals are aimed towards assisting caregivers. The secondary way of measuring the impact of our idea is the increase of independence given to caregivers by using the Conpago Companion, through the use of task distribution through the Conpago app.

What are your immediate next steps after the Challenge?

Conpago will continue to refine the Companion in order to give end users the best experience possible. We will look continue to look for funding so that we can push this product to the international market. Conpago aims to alleviate the burdens that caregivers have by implementing any new innovations that appear in the world of tech, whilst ensuring people with dementia maintain a good standard of living by allowing them to have as much independence for as long as possible.

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Photo of Joanna Spoth
Team

Hi Marley Brown - thank you for your updates! Can you tell me more about the Conpago Companion and how it works for the caregiver and person with dementia? Would the Companion be in the home of the person with dementia and connect to a tablet? And is that what would connect with devices around the home? Then, caregivers would simply download the app (not have Companion) to sync with the activities of their loved one, use the messaging feature, etc. Trying to repeat back the way I'm understanding so you can correct it. :)
An ongoing question we have in this Challenge is how many people with dementia are currently comfortable using tablets. Do you have a sense of this? It seems Conpago would integrate into existing habits - how about the user experience for the person with dementia? Is that natural or do you think it would require some onboarding? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and thank you for your participation in the Challenge!

Photo of Marley Brown
Team

Hi Joanna Spoth  to address your whole question I have broken it up a bit. Sorry for the delay in responding.
The Companion relieves some of the dependence that a dementia sufferer can have on the carer by removing some of their daily tasks and responsibilities.

'Would the Companion be in the home of the person with dementia and connect to a tablet? And is that what would connect with devices around the home? Then, caregivers would simply download the app (not have Companion) to sync with the activities of their loved one, use the messaging feature, etc. Trying to repeat back the way I'm understanding so you can correct it. :)'

You have the right idea, the Companion itself will be in the home of the person with dementia, and connected to any regularly used electric appliance, (In Australia and England, probably a electric Jug/Kettle, we love tea!) the Companion itself has a tablet integrated into it which has the Conpago App pre loaded onto it. The App itself will be the only function available on the tablet to limit functions, and avoid confusion. In the future we aim to have the Companion interface with wearable technology, such as Apple Watches. Adding more home appliances, such as smartTVs will also be possible. Caregivers and loved ones will all be able to download the app to their smartphones or use the browser on their desktop.

'How many people with dementia are currently comfortable using tablets?
Do you have a sense of this?'

The companion acts passive way to connect seniors with dementia slowly and over time. Because the companion connects to habituated appliances that are associated to long term memories such as making a cup of tea. Settings can be adjusted so that when they make a cup of tea the Companion will read out messages and calendar events. As the seniors get more familiar with the tablet and it becomes a part of the daily routine they can use some of the more advanced functions, such as video calling.

'It seems Conpago would integrate into existing habits - how about the user experience for the person with dementia? Is that natural or do you think it would require some onboarding?'

There is strong research to suggest that people coping with dementia should engage in a routine as early as possible, as forming a pattern of behaviour can lessen the effects of short-term memory loss. Although we do not expect people with late stage dementia to be able to interface with device directly, passive interfacing via a kettle will still be possible if it’s part of the existing routine. We aim to have this product in the hands of people while still in the early stages of dementia, while routines are being formulated. We aim to have the interface as simple as possible, utilizing as many visual cues as possible. The aim is to require little to no onboarding.

I hope that has cleared a couple of things up, we are always keen to hear your feedback :)

Photo of Joanna Spoth
Team

@Marley Brown Thank you for your thoughtful responses and the work you're doing in the caregiving space. I hope you've found participating in this Challenge helpful! Stay tuned for our Top Ideas Announcement.

Photo of Marley Brown
Team

Thanks Joanna, we appreciate the opportunity to get involved, it has been great to see all the other entrants and their inspirational ideas.
We are eagerly awaiting the final announcement and progressing our idea.

Photo of Marley Brown
Team

Hi Joanna
We weren't able to edit our idea page but here is a link with us running through the product. https://youtu.be/E5KdJ5NVihM we think this might help with answering some of the questions you might have.