Design win for Alzheimer’s tool – The winning entry is designed to help people with Alzheimer’s

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An online screensaver and social network for people with Alzheimer’s and their carers has won a Microsoft-led software design prize.

“Memories are made of this” was designed by Said Dajani, website manager for the Alzheimer’s Society.

The tool includes a screen saver which carers could use as a memory prompt, uploading text, images and video clips.

Microsoft’s engineers will now turn the concept into reality, with the aim of implementing the system.

DesignIT is an annual competition to champion the work of software designers and reverse the stereotypes of IT managers as “geeks”.

Professionals were invited to submit plans for computer systems which demonstrated creativity as well as “tackling social and human interest problems experienced by charities”.

‘Public vote’

“It was a public vote – so that was very gratifying,” said Mr Dajani.

“More and more people are coming across dementia, affecting them and their family.

“It is estimated that one million people will have a form of dementia by 2025.”

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. It is a physical disease which causes the chemistry and structure of the brain to change, leading to the death of brain cells.

Mr Dajani said the idea behind the design was to help carers and those with Alzheimer’s to remember important facts about their lives.

“The screensaver is a virtual scrapbook – a carer and person with dementia can work together to upload pictures, video, text.

“We have found that an offline scrapbook has been of real benefit to both and we want to extend this to the digital world. It puts people in contact with their memories.”

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Artists interpreted the designs for an exhibition. Here, Annabel Emson was inspired by a plan centred on reducing CO2 emissions

The second part of the scheme is the creation of a social network for people with dementia.

“There is definitely a need for a shared, secured network so that people with dementia can talk with each other,” said Mr Dajani.

“This will mean people with dementia will not have to deal with complicated log-ins but could chat to other members of the network who are online at the same time.”

As part of the scheme artists have been working to interpret the designs for an exhibition in London this week to showcase the work.

“We’re very honoured. The artist came in to see us and to find out what it means to have dementia,” said Mr Dajani.

The other finalists included two plans to help people understand their carbon footprint, a website to help track whale sightings around the UK and an anti-bullying site.

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