Nigerian-Irish Teens Develop an Award-Winning App to Help Dementia Sufferers

Three Nigerian-Irish teens are the masterminds behind an app that uses music to help individuals living with dementia. More specifically, Rachael Akano, 15, Margaret Akano, 17, and Joy Njekewe, 17, have designed and coded Memory Haven to help people suffering from this debilitating condition to cope during lockdown. And the trio’s effort has paid off. The app has recently won a prize at the Technovation World Summit, a technology competition, beating 1,500 entries from 62 countries.

Relatively common among the elderly, dementia is characterized by memory loss, confusion, and difficulty performing everyday tasks. The trio were inspired by their mentor Evelyn Nomayo who lost her mother to the condition, says Katrine Rubæk, the owner of the website sundt.uk, adding that while there are certain supplements that can help to minimize the symptoms of dementia, such as zinc, vitamin B12, and folic acid, it is also crucial that people with the condition remain mentally active. 

Since research shows that music memories remain relatively undamaged by dementia, Memory Haven features a playlist specifically developed for people with the condition. This is not all, however. The app has plenty of other features, including reminder alerts, and face and voice recognition that helps patients identify family members, friends and carers. It also includes built-in memory games that let patients test their cognitive abilities and memory, as well as a call button that can help them get in touch with their carers or loved ones.

The girls went up against stiff competition during the event, including six Irish teams. Some of the more outstanding teams included a Brazilian team with Mappid, a safety app for women and LGBTQ people; a New Zealand team with Eunomia, an app developed to inspire young people to learn about politics; and a US team, with RecycleRight aiming to help prevent waste contamination and promote recycling.

The trio is hoping to launch Memory Haven in Europe and the Americas in the near future.

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