Digital journal helps explore emotions around dementia

A postgraduate design student has created an interactive journal, combining textiles and technology, to help people with dementia communicate their emotions.

A postgraduate design student has created an interactive journal, combining textiles and technology, to help people with dementia communicate their emotions.

Britta Schulte created the prototype journal, using a tablet computer and case with embedded sensors, as part of her MA Interaction Design at Nottingham Trent University.

It is on display at the University's postgraduate expo, Making the Future '14, which runs until 2 October 2014 in the Bonington Gallery.

Britta, 33, living in Nottingham, said: "I wanted to find a way to help people diagnosed with dementia to express their emotions with their partner and to reflect on how they felt personally."

Her project, called 'explore', involved creating an application for a tablet, such as an iPad or Android tablet, which helps people affected by dementia and their carer or partner to share their feelings about their diagnosis. It uses two main functions - the first is for writing and the second produces a series of dots on the screen to enable drawing. However, the options available in both areas are influenced by the user's emotions – determined by sensors in the knitted journal case which Britta has created.

"The case is neatly folded around the tablet and the user has to unwrap it. When they do there are areas on the sections which fold out to measure your pulse and temperature as these are indicators of emotional states – such as stress or anxiety," explained Britta.

The results of this measurement then influences the type of information fed back to the user to help them get the most out of the journal.

Britta said: "If they are feeling negative, the journal will encourage them to explore those emotions rather than burying them. In the drawing function, a larger number of dots appear on the screen if they are anxious because those who are stressed often like to draw more erratic, doodle type images."

Britta is due to meet with the Alzheimer's Society to discuss potential opportunities for taking her prototype into dementia cafe groups to trial it further. If the tests are successful, she would like to see how her designs could be marketed.

Her master's project followed on from an undergraduate Fashion Knitwear Design and Knitted Textiles degree at Nottingham Trent University for which she created knitwear garments designed to help those diagnosed with dementia maintain their independence for longer. The garments incorporated highlighted and magnetic fastenings to help the wearer understand how to put them on.

Now, Britta is looking for opportunities to continue her design work into a PhD.

"I want to look more into how designers can design for dementia – what people need and how designers can expand their knowledge to meet that need," she said.

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Kirsty Green, Press and Public Affairs Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8799, or via email.

    Making the Future is on at Bonington Gallery, Dryden Street, Nottingham Trent University, from September 15 to October 2 2014, Monday to Friday, 10 am to 5 pm. There will be a private view on 24 September 2014 from 5 pm to 8 pm.

Digital journal helps explore emotions around dementia

Published on 25 September 2014
  • Category: Press

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