User-participatory development of assistive technology for people with dementia-from needs to functional requirements. First results of the COGKNOW project

Franka J.M. Meiland, Annika Reinersmann, Stefan Sävenstedt, Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Marike Hettinga, David Craig, Anna Lena Andersson, Rose Marie Dröes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The increasing number of persons with dementia means growing demands on care and support at home, and so additional solutions are needed. In the European COGKNOW project dementia experts and technological system designers cooperate closely to develop a cognitive prosthetic device that supports persons with mild dementia in their daily functioning and improves their quality of life. The project focuses on the areas of memory, social contact, daily activities, and feelings of safety. The design process is user-participatory and consists of three iterative cycles. In each cycle 12 to 18 persons with dementia of the Alzheimer type and their carers at three test sites across Europe are invited to actively participate in the development process. Each cycle starts with user needs inquiry workshops and interviews, followed by (further) technological development of the device, and ends with user field tests to test the userfriendliness, usefulness and impact of the developed prototype in daily life. This article reports on the first project phase in which a top four list of Information and Communication Technological (ICT) solutions was selected that formed the basis todevelop a first prototype. The list was based on the priorities of needs mentioned by thefirst participants group of people with dementia (n=17) and their carers (n=17), thesolutions they preferred, their disabilities, personal and situational characteristics, and thetechnological designers' opinions on the feasibility of developing the proposed solutionswithin the time frame of the project. Based on the information gathered in the user workshops and interviews, the dementia expert researchers further explained the selected ICT solutions in written scenarios. Next, a functional requirements list was composed and a first prototype was developed that offered support in four areas: reminding - day and time orientation support, find mobile service and reminding service; social contact - telephone support by picture dialling; activities - media control support through a music play back and radio function; and, feelings of safety - a warning service to indicate when the front door is open and an emergency contact service. The results of this first project phase show that, in general, the people with mild dementia as well as their carers were able to express and prioritize their (unmet) needs, and the kind of technological assistance they preferred in the selected areas. This made it possible to compose an overall priority list for the development of a multifunctional ICT device. In next phases it will be tested if the user-participatory development and multidisciplinary approach applied result in a user-friendly and useful device that positively impacts the autonomy and quality of life of people with dementia and their carers.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDementia
Subtitle of host publicationNon-Pharmacological Therapies
PublisherNOVA Science publishers, Inc.
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9781614707363
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012


  • Assistive technology
  • Carers
  • Dementia
  • Needs
  • User-participatory development

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