Dec 16, 2007
Digital cameras for dementia patients
Microsoft researchers are developing a wearable digital camera that can be used to record the day's activities of th user. SenseCam was originally developed as a memory aid for healthy people, but it is now in clinical testing for those with memory impairment, such as dementia.
SenseCam is worn around the neck and automatically takes a wide-angle, low-resolution photograph every 30 seconds. It contains an accelerometer to stabilize the image and reduce blurriness, and it can be configured to take pictures in response to changes in movement, temperature, or lighting. "Because it has a wide-angle lens, you don't have to point it at anything--it just happens to capture pretty much everything that the wearer can see," says Steve Hodges, the manager of the Sensor and Devices Group at Microsoft Research, U.K.
An entire day's events can be captured digitally on a memory card and downloaded onto a PC for subsequent viewing. Using specially designed software, the Microsoft researchers can convert the pictures into a short movie that displays the images at up to 10 frames per second, allowing a day's events to be viewed in a few minutes.
SenseCam was originally developed as a memory aid for healthy people, but it is now in clinical testing for those with memory impairment, such as dementia. Narinder Kapur, head of the Neuropsychology Department at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, U.K., and leader of the eight-patient study, recently published an initial case report of one patient in the journal Neuropsychological Rehabilitation. Kapur and his colleagues found that Mrs. B could remember most nontrivial events after she had spent around one hour reviewing the SenseCam images with her husband every two days for a two-week period.