Because of Her Grandma’s Alzheimer’s, She Builds an App to Help Her Remember

After watching how Alzheimer’s disease made the life of her grandmother hard and how she increasingly become forgetful over the past few years, 14-year-old Emma Yang decided to use her coding skills to make a big difference in her life.

Her grandma began showing symptoms of chronic neurodegenerative disease when she was still 7 to 8 years old. Yang decided to create an app for her as soon as she began showing a skill for programming.

I have personal experience with how the disease can affect not only the patient but also family and friends. When I was about 11 or 12, I got really interested in using technology for social good to help other people around the world.

[Image Credit: TEDx Talks / Youtube]
[Image Credit: TEDx Talks / Youtube]
[Image Credit: TEDx Talks / Youtube]
[Image Credit: TEDx Talks / Youtube]

The Timeless App

She is currently fixing her upcoming app, the Timeless app that would allow people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease to scroll through photos of their loved ones.

Using the facial recognition technology, this app will also be able to tell the user who the person is and how they are related to each other. If the patient fails to recognize someone in the room, then the app will take a picture of that person and will try to automatically identify them.

I saw a lot of things about how AI and facial recognition were really evolving and being applied in more and more areas, especially healthcare.

[Image Credit: TEDx Talks / Youtube]
[Image Credit: TEDx Talks / Youtube]
[Image Credit: TEDx Talks / Youtube]
[Image Credit: TEDx Talks / Youtube]

Using More Advanced Technology

Her mentors at the tech company Kairos are helping her in incorporating their proprietary facial recognition software into the app. She also learned to code for the iPhone for the first time to help bring more users.

Other features of Timeless include a reminder screen that lists daily appointments, a simple contacts screen that includes the names and photos of the family members, and an about me page that shows the patient’s name, age, contact number, and address.

This app also alerts the user if they try to call a contact repeatedly, which occurs in people with Alzheimer’s disease. For this instance, a notification will flash and saying:

Are you sure you want to call? You just called less than five minutes ago.

[Image Credit: TEDx Talks / Youtube]
[Image Credit: TEDx Talks / Youtube]
Other useful features of the app include placing of events on the daily calendar as well as filling up the set of photos that the facial recognition algorithm can use to learn how to identify a patient’s loved one.

Since it is still under development, Yang is currently raising funds via a crowdsourcing campaign to help her move forward with testing the features. Her Indiegogo campaign already raised $7,202 of the $50,000 goal she has.