A group of Nigerian girls living in Drogheda, Ireland have won an international tech competition with an app that helps people with dementia.
Rachael Akano, 16, Margaret Akano, 17, and Joy Njekwe, 17, took first place in Technovation Girls, a contest challenging young women and families to use technology to address real-world problems.
Their app, Memory Haven, was on one of 16 finalists at the Technovation World Summit, taking the senior girl’s division and being named People’s Choice.
Memory Haven is designed to help people in Ireland whose families have been impacted by dementia.
The app’s six main features include a photo wallet, memory games, health alerts, a face and voice recognition feature, a music playlist, and a reach out feature, which allows patients to contact emergency contacts and doctors in convenient manner.
The app’s music playlist feature detects the mood of the patient through a facial recognition feature and plays music that is tailored to the mood of the patient.
The app’s photo wallet feature, meanwhile, allows users to flip through tagged photographs that identify the people in the image. The app addresses three problems faced by dementia patients: speech difficulty, memory loss, and recognition difficulty.
The competition is hosted annually by Technovation, a non-profit organization that empowers girls to become leaders in the male-dominated tech industry. In all, nearly 2,000 entrants from more than 60 countries entered the latest edition of the competition.
The teenage girls were mentored by Evelyn Nomayo, an Afro-Irish data scientist at Trinity College, whose mother suffered from dementia, a syndrome in which there is deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities.
Although dementia mainly affects older people, it is not a normal part of aging.
Nomayo got involved in mentoring because she was tired of women and people of colour feeling isolated in STEM fields.
Memory Haven will launch in app stores later this month.