A Vocomemo device worn by a user as pendant
Close-up of the Vocomemo device showing its buttons and fixation system
3D model of the top of Vocomemo case (2 left images, in both orientations) and bottom (right image)
Explanation of how to set up the device and record an audio prompt
Prototype developed to test the main features of the device
Ce qu'il fait
Alzheimer's disease impairs patient autonomy through memory loss and burdens caregivers with constant assistance. Through timely and pertinent reminders, Vocomemo aims at preserving patient autonomy and quality of life and decreases caregivers' mental load.
Votre source d'inspiration
Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, was affecting more than 55 million individuals worldwide in 2020. It is projected to affect over twice as many individuals by 2050. Some of our relatives are affected by this disease, and that inspired us to search for solutions to make their daily life easier. Through conversations with individuals living with Alzheimer's disease, we understood the limitations of existing memory aids such as sticky notes and aimed at creating a more effective and user-friendly alternative. These discussions led us to understand they needed a voice recording device that plays audio prompts automatically.
Comment ça marche
Conceived by a team of final year students in industrial design, electrical engineering, business engineering, and law, our solution is in two different parts: Vocomemo and tags. Vocomemo is a voice recorder and is worn by the user. Devices called tags are placed in rooms of the home where prompts should be played. When Vocomemo detects the proximity of a tag thanks to Bluetooth Low Energy technology, it deduces in which room the user is and plays the audio prompt corresponding to this room and the current time. For example, it can remind the user to eat when they enter their kitchen around noon. The Vocomemo is a jewel and can be worn as a pendant, bracelet, or belt by the patient. This versatile design ensures the user can adapt the object to their own liking and increases the chances for the user to keep wearing it. Vocomemo detects when the user is not moving, to go in power-saving mode and increase its battery life, which is estimated to almost a week.
Processus de conception
Since day one, it has been a big concern for us to work in collaboration with our future users, their caregivers, as well as medical practitioners to give us advice. This ensures Vocomemo is meeting user needs and expectations. Because we are aware that most people suffering from Alzheimer's disease are not confident with technology, our focus while developing the device was to keep it very easy to use, with a small number of buttons having precise functions. It also does not require any external device such as a smartphone nor an Internet connection. Different prototypes have been created: some to test the design and others to test the technical implementation. The design has been iteratively improved upon by 3D printing models at different design stages and showing it to future users to gather their feedback. We also made sure that the case can fit all the required electrical components and battery selected for the technical needs of the device. On the engineering side, a prototype has been developed to make sure the device is working as expected and that tags are detected by Vocomemo. The quality of recorded sound was initially quite bad, but adding a couple electrical components and increasing the sound resolution improved it. The production cost is estimated to 26€.
En quoi est-il différent ?
Vocomemo is unique because it combines the strengths of the two most commonly used existing products. Like sticky notes, the user can place messages in different places of their room. Like reminder smartphone applications, Vocomemo makes it possible to remind of appointments and visits at a specific time. Moreover, Vocomemo addresses the drawbacks of these devices. Using audio prompts instead of written notes makes the messages contain more information and makes the device usable by users suffering from visual impairment. Users are also reassured to hear audio prompts with the voice of a relative they know and trust. Finally, Vocomemo is designed with sustainability in mind: manufacturing and assembly will be performed near Belgium, reducing carbon footprint and creating an ethical supply chain. Chosen manufacturing processes and materials minimize environmental impact, and we plan to offer a free collection of devices to repair and recycle them.
Plans pour l'avenir
The next development step of Vocomemo is to work on the miniaturization of the device by conceiving a printed circuit board making the electrical connections between the components. This will ensure the functioning and compatibility of the components and whether the quality of the audio signal is as good as expected. In parallel, the 3D model of the device case should be molded to verify its quality, check whether future users like it, approve its size and check the two parts of the case are closing well. In parallel, we will continue writing a patent linked to our power-saving mechanism and register our intellectual property rights.
Our team presented the Vocomemo device as our Master's thesis and got a grade of 19 out of 20.