An app that repairs “broken” speech, high-tech glasses that can help those with dementia recognise others and a “Yellow Brick Road” map to help people navigate their community are among the solutions that have made it to the semi-finals of the £4m Longitude Prize on Dementia.
A total of £1.9m has been awarded to 24 teams of innovators in the international challenge competition funded by Alzheimer’s Society and Innovate UK and designed and delivered by Challenge Works.
Discovery Awards of £80,000 have been awarded to develop new technologies to improve the lives of people living with dementia.
Teams will now work alongside people living with dementia and their carers to ensure that the technologies are intuitive, easy-to-use and able to adapt to their changing needs.
Kate Lee, CEO, Alzheimer’s Society, said:
“It’s vital people with dementia are able to live independently, doing things that bring them fulfilment, for as long as possible.
“And that’s exactly what tech innovation can provide.
“Today’s Discovery Award winners all have the capacity to develop cutting-edge tools that bring hope to the here and now, making a tangible difference to people’s lives.”
Discovery Award-winners include
- Dorothy Community from Care City (UK) – a digital “Yellow Brick Road” map that uses augmented reality to provide virtual pathways and simple instructions for to navigate their environment.
- iMAGIC smart glasses under development by Khalifa University (UAE) to help people recognise familiar faces, provide reminders and alerts, zoom in and out to facilitate navigation, make phone calls to loved ones and monitor vital signs.
- A virtual speech assistant app from Amicus Brain Innovations (USA) that will use speech and language processing to listen to “broken speech” – a common challenge as dementia advances – and speak aloud the AI‘s “repaired” rendition of what the user intended to say.
Indro Mukerjee, CEO, Innovate UK said:
“By addressing dementia the Longitude Prize tackles a global health crisis.
“Worldwide, around 50 million people have dementia and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year.
“Innovate UK is pleased to support this initiative along with the other vital work we are doing in this area.
“The UK is a global leader in innovation for healthy ageing and this prize will incentivise new technologies. This will help people with dementia, their families and their carers, to make living with the condition easier”.
The Longitude Prize on Dementia is driving the development of personalised, technology-based tools that are co-created with people living with the early stages of the condition, helping them live independent, more fulfilled lives and enable them to do the things they enjoy.
The competition has been co-designed with people living with dementia, with judges advised in their decision making by the prize’s Lived Experience Advisory Panel.
Trevor Salomon, whose wife Yvonne was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2013, is Chair of the Longitude Prize on Dementia’s Lived Experience Advisory Panel.
He said: “Before her diagnosis, my wife astonished everyone with her ability to do anything she set her mind to.
“If we could access technologies that help extend her independence and her enjoyment, it would be so worthwhile.
“Advances in AI could lead to new technologies that would be transformative for people like my wife – but they need to be easy to use, intuitive and adapt to the unique needs of each person.
“Technologies shouldn’t be developed in a bubble; they need to be designed and tested by the people who will ultimately benefit from them.”
In 2024, five finalists will progress with an additional £1.5m in funding to build real-world prototypes.
In total, more than £3 million will be awarded in seed funding and development grants, with a £1 million first prize to be awarded in 2026.
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