The app that was produced by the EIT Health Therapy Lens project uses augmented reality to assist patients with dementia.
Therapy Lens, an EIT Health Innovation Project in 2017, produced an augmented reality application for the Microsoft HoloLens head-mounted display. The patient wears the HoloLens over their eyes and can have an unobtrusive view of their real world. But when needed, the app also places holograms in the patient’s field of view, transposing augmented reality onto the patient's real environment.
Dementia patients typically struggle with activities of daily living, such as cooking, cleaning and taking medication, at home. Existing support solutions are limited, and mainly rely on ambulant caregivers with a majority of the burden placed on the family. To help ease the burden of these informal caregivers, and to provide dementia patients with an additional form of support at home, the Therapy Lens project explored the ways in which AR technology could be used as an innovative solution to these problems.
Five partners involved
The partners in the EIT Health Innovation Project, Technical University Munich, RWTH Aachen, MADoPA, Imec and CapDigital, worked closely with dementia patients, informal caregivers and clinicians, to co-design an AR application that would address the specific needs of dementia patients. The involvement of the key stakeholders in the design and development process helped to ensure that the AR app stayed on target for addressing the unmet needs of dementia patients.
Currently, the partners are exploring opportunities for expanding the work of Therapy Lens with the aim of further developing this approach. The project has also developed a separate stream of research on the use of AR to support the elderly and people suffering from dementia. These ongoing research projects continue to build on the work of Therapy Lens through Master and PhD students at RWTH Aachen, Imec/VUB and TUM.
Features of the app
The Therapy Lens app provides patients with seven support features. The app has three orientation games, designed to familiarize patients with the AR device and to explore how they can interact with the Holograms. Two AR games focusing on short-term memory and tea making are designed to stimulate patients in a fun environment while also providing the potential for assessing these basic skills at home. A tagging feature allows dementia patients to place an AR visual tag in important locations around their home. This provides patients with clickable AR tags that reveal context specific visual reminders that can support them in their daily routine at home. The app also supports dementia patients during the performance of real daily activities at home. Currently, the app supports patients in preparing a cup of tea using AR animated cues designed to guide patients through each step of this daily activity.
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