Innovators working on projects to transform living with dementia awarded over £1m

The semi-finalists of The Longitude Prize on Dementia to support the development of technologies for people living with the disease have been announced.

Last week, the semi-finalists were revealed for the award, which is funded by Alzheimer’s Society and Innovate UK, and received £1.9m. This large sum, which is distributed via the Discovery Award, will be split into £80k per winner.

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Money has been distributed to teams in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, UAE, Columbia, Portugal, and the Isle of Man.

Ideas and creations that have been constructed by the 24 semi-finalists have been designed for people living with dementia to help them remain independent for longer and keep doing the things that bring them happiness.

Some of the creations include an app that helps people living with the disease communicate, high-tech facial recognition glasses to identify familiar faces, and an augmented reality map to help people safely find their way around an area.

The glasses invention, otherwise known as iMAGIC smart glasses, are being developed by Khalifa University (UAE) to help people recognise familiar faces, provide reminders and alerts, zoom in and out to facilitate navigation, make phone calls to loved ones and monitor vital signs of dementia. The glasses will also eventually be able to help identify objects that sport a QR code.

In addition, a virtual speech assistant app to fill in missing words – the interactive AI software from Amicus Brain Innovations (USA) will use speech and language processing to listen to ‘broken speech’ – a common symptom of dementia – and speak aloud the AI’s ‘repaired’ rendition of what the user intended to say.

Kate Lee, CEO at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘It’s vital people with dementia are able to live independently, doing things that bring them fulfilment, for as long as possible. And that’s exactly what tech innovation can provide.

“[Last week’s] Discovery Award winners all have the capacity to develop cutting-edge tools that bring hope to the here and now, making a tangible difference to people’s lives.

‘New drugs have been discovered which slow the progression of early Alzheimer’s disease, but there’s still more to do.  Alzheimer’s Society remains committed to innovative projects like the Longitude Prize so that together we can improve the lives of people living with dementia and their families.’

This year, the Longitude Prize received over 175 applications and in 2024, five finalists will be able to progress with an additional £1.5m in funding to build real-world prototypes. Overall, more than £3m will be awarded in seed funding and development grants with a £1, first prize to be given in 2026.

Image: Robina Weermeijer


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