21st SciFY Academy | Dementia & Technology
Technological solutions for those who forget... a little or not 

On Wednesday, 18th of October SciFY team along with Alzheimer Athens and NRSC "Demokritos" held in INNOVATHENS was held the 21st SciFY Academy on "Dementia & Technology" where we tried to answer: "How does Technology help People with Dementia?"

More than 120 health professionals, caregivers of people with dementia as well as students from related schools attended the seminar that was focused on practical solutions and tools for people with dementia.

Initially Dr. Paraskevi Sakka, Neurologist and Psychiatrist, President of the Company Alzheimer Athens and President of the National Observatory on Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease, talked about Alzheimer's disease, the latest developments and how Greece is affected today in social and economic terms. See the presentation of Dr. Sakka here.

Later on, Ms. Eleni Margioti, Clinical Neuropsychologist from the Alzheimer's Athens Company, referred to the Non Pharmaceutical Interventions for dementia such as: mental empowerment, physical exercise, occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc. You can find the presentation of Ms Margioti here.

The third speaker of the event was Mr Vasilis Giannakopoulos, Marketing & Impact Manager of SciFY, where he presented the application for mobile phones "diAnoia" developed by SciFY for those who take care of people with Dementia. View the full presentation of Mr Giannakopoulos here. 

 

Then SingularLogic's Project Manager of European Projects, Mr Nikos Drosos referred to tools and technologies that help people with dementia. See the presentation of Mr Drosos here.

 

Finally, Dr Vassiliki Rentoumi, researcher at NCSR "Demokritos", on the occasion of the European IASIS Project, refered to the developments regarding individualized medicine for patiens with Alzheimer's. You can find the presentation of Dr Rendumi here.

 

After the end of the presentations the participants had the opportunity to ask their questions to the speakers. Friends from all over Greece asked us to livestream the event and we managed. Hundreds of people watched the live streaming.

For all of you that did not participate in the event you can watch the full event it in this link: http://go.scify.gr/sfacIN21Video

We want to thank the Alzheimer Athens, NCSR “Dimokritos”INNOVATHENS and all of you that you helped us to make our dream of the free dissemination of knowledge a reality!

When we stop seeing disability as a weakness, hope is reignited. In SciFY, what we can do is to offer tools to people that will make their life a little bit easier. These are the results of our work.

 

This summer with your help we gathered the resources to create new games for blind children. In Autumn we created them and the children have already started playing and special schools use them. Could you imagine what new opportunities you made possible?

Our plan had further stages, as you know.
Specialists Education Teachers from around the world have requested to be able to create Memor-i games for education and entertainment, own their own. Variations on themes, variations in other languages, etc.

We continued according to plan and sought resources. Thanks to the funding of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation we can now take this step.

Well, we’re commencing  the Memor-i studio!

An application that will allow everyone to make their own Memor-i games for the impaired in vision as well as the sighted, easily and without programming knowledge, and to offer it free to all.
Therefore the work and creativity of one person can be provided freely and free to all, creating a multiplier effect. A game that a Greek makes can be played by blind children in Greece but also in the States, a variation made by a German can be enjoyed in Austria....

Well, no need to say more at the moment. You understand.
We start work and soon you will be informed of the new results!

Latsis Foundation

The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation is a non-profit organization established in 2005 to continue the benevolent legacy of John S. Latsis. The Foundation plans, manages, and funds programmes that cover a broad range of fields, such as education, science, health, social welfare, culture, arts and the environment, in collaboration with civil society partners and key players within these areas. An additional pillar of the Foundation’s activities is the operation of the Neraida Floating Museum, which, by offering visitors free access and organizing various events, seeks to highlight the maritime and entrepreneurial history of Greece, familiarize youth with the maritime profession, and promote environmental awareness. The Foundation seeks to remain in sync with and respond to current social needs. www.latsis-foundation.org

 

 

Games and Dreams

Monday, 05 December 2016
Through the eyes of a volunteer

Our team grew with our volunteers!
How is it then, for the first time to be with the children at the tests of games for people who are blind?

Patrycja conveys her experience...

 "Oh .. now I can’t see you.. where are you?" I said, taking off my glasses. Gregory  put on his colorful glasses and said laughing "I see you". Then I woremy glasses and said "ha! And I see you". This game lasted a few minutes, until the laptops of Vassilis and Paul were setup for the children of the Special Primary School for the Blind in Kallithea to try the Memor-i game and record whatever changes are needed in order to improve the game. 

Memor-i is an electronic game that is now being developed by SciFY. It's like the game we played when we were young, where you have to find the cards with two identical animals. In our case, it is specially designed to be played by children that are blind or with low vision. For example, it has "doors" which, when opened, you see a small animal and together with the image, you hear the sound it makes, so you can match pairs and win.The children can be navigate in the game with a special interface and soundeffects. At the Elementary School for the Blind in Kallithea, children with impaired vision were to test it, like Gregoris, with whose glasses we played with.

Children that do not see at all also tested it. One of these children is Alice. Vassilis informed us that she had tried both previous games for blind children (LEAP) with excellent results: she was incredibly enthusiastic for the game, and we achieved educational goals, as well. While essentially she does not know how to use a computer, the game became the reason she started to learn, to come into contact with it: without seeing the keyboard, she recognizes and remembers the location of the keys, with which she will be move in the game. As we have learned from our actions so far, this is true for almost all blind children in gradeschool: through the game they start learning about computers.

Success for little Alice is not only in the electronic space of games, as we were informed proudly by her teacher; she has lent her voice to the narration of the story of “Paplomatou”, for which each child has made their own book. This book has pages on which the children have created "images" of various craft scardboard / fabrics and pages on which the text of the story isprinted. Text for the sighted and Braille (Braille Code) for those who do not see at all.

Children who came to help us improve Memor-i, were all so excited that they would do something different in their everyday life, something their mom could do, their dad, their brothers and most of us. Something we take for granted, is anadventure for them. In their voice, you recognized the joy, they did not want the game to end and give their turn to the other children. Even children who had not touched a keyboard before, wanted to try again. When we told them it is at an early stage and we want their help to finish it, the response was outstanding: all of them told us with enthusiasm that the game is perfect and they would play again even at this incomplete stage!

All this communication, in addition to improvements to the Memor-i game, gave us inspiration for other things. Any child we met at the Special Primary School for the Blind in Kallithea, had the well known children's liveliness, the interest to learn new things, enthusiasm to talk to us for everyday things, such as an afternoon walk, or what dream they saw at night! It is nice to hear that even people who do not see the world with the same ease that we do, have their own dreams and plans a colorful future for everyone.

By PatrycjaWeronika Wosiecka

*Names of the children are changed to protect their privacy

Talk and Play

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Need

Patients and people with disabilities have to deal with a lot of difficulties in their everyday lives. Some of the most common problems are:

  • Limited or no communication at all with their environment
  • Lack of autonomy in their leisure time and
  • Not enough exercise during ergotherapy

There are plenty of solutions in the field of Assistive Technologies to make their life better. However, they usually are too expensive, or so complicated, that they become inaccessible to patients and people with disabilities.
The result is that these people are isolated and aren’t properly or not at all rehabilitated, and this has physical and mental implications for them and their environment.

Talk and Play

Talk and Play is a system that allows people with disabilities to:

  • communicate with their environment
  • be more independent during their leisure time
  • receive training and exercise for rehabilitation at home, under the guidance of their therapist.

This way, they are able to communicate, listen to music, watch movies and train for a quicker rehabilitation.

Our main goal was to drastically reduce the total cost of the solution. How we achieved this:

  • We created the software and offer it for free 
  • We searched for alternative economic solutions regarding hardware.

But we would like to have a significant impact. This is why:

  • We offered ready-to-use solutions
    • to 3 recognized institutions that support people with disabilities in Greece
    • to people with disabilities for use at home
  • We offered it for free.
  • We allow everyone to adjust Talk and Play to their needs
    • The therapist is able to adjust it to the needs of the user
    • We are offering the source code under open source licenses, so that everyone can make it better and change it according to their needs.
  • We are making sure that the project and its results are known to as many people as possible in order to maximize the impact.

Who can use it

Talk and Play is addressed to:

  1. People with no mental problems, who have communication issues due to movement impairments or difficulties in speech (e.g. tracheostomy combined with mobility limitations.
  2. People with aphasia (e.g. due to brain damage).

Apart from the groups - end users described above, Talk and Play benefits also:

  1. Institutions and scientists dealing with the care and rehabilitation of persons belonging to groups as referred above.
  2. Individuals that provide such care at home.

Partners

In this effort we have valuable collaborators: the Recovery Laboratory of the Athens Medical School (Evaggelismos Hospital), ELEPAP, K.K.P.P.A. (Social Care Centre of Attica) ans the Foundation KASP-Hatzipaterio.

With years of experience and expertise in this field, they have a key role in:

  1. Specifications analysis, by describing the features of the software that we develop as age ranges, design patterns, colors, sound and visual effects, access modes, difficulty levels, response time, etc. 
  2. Exploitation: since they were the first to use the “Talk and Play”, by training the users and their carers, multiplying the benefits.
  3. Evaluation, since they provided guidance and evaluated the software throughout the project.
  4. Future development, since after the completion of the project they provided ideas and guidance for new enhanced Talk and Play features.

Download

Download now Talk and Play for free on your computer

 

For Windows here (in Greek): 

http://go.scify.gr/talkandplaydownloadw  

 

For Linux here (in Greek): 

  http://go.scify.gr/talkandplaydownloadl 

Installation instructions: here (in Greek) Installation instructions: here (in Greek)
Use instructions: here (in Greek) Use instructionshere (in Greek)

 

 

DIY

In the following table is the development cost of the prototype solution: Talk and Play in Raspberry PI with wireless switch.

For every item and for every design of the 3D printing, the link leads to the supply source (open hardware). 

 Bluefruit EZ-Key  24,50€
 Raspberry Pi 3 Model B  41,70€
 Polymer Lithium Ion Battery - 3.7v 550mAh  8,00€
 SparkFun USB LiPoly Charger - Single Cell  17,50€
 tactswitch12x12mm7.5mm-4pin  0,15€
 SANDISK SDSQUNC-016G-GN6IA ULTRA MICRO SDHC 16GB    8,90€
 Raspberry Pi 3 case with VESA mounts **  2,00€
 Power Supply 5V 2.5A  9,90€
 Files stl for the 3D printing *  4,00€
 Talk and Play Software  0,00€
 Total cost  116,65 € 

 * Cost of 3D printing in case that the user has 3D printer

** SciFY has designed a special 3D print file for Rpi 3 top case with the SciFY logo 

Results

Impact: 950+ Downloads

Talk and Play has been completed successfully and the results surpassed our expectations.

  • Talk and Play has 950+ Downloads up to now.
  • The Talk and Play software has been developed and offered for free and under open source licenses.
  • The partners embraced the project: Talk and Play's evaluation of all criteria exceed 4.75 in 5-grade credit scale.
  • The original 3 partners increased during the project to 4. Thus, in addition to ELEPAP, the Recovery Laboratory of the Athens Medical School (Evaggelismos Hospital) and K.K.P.P.A. (Social Care Centre of Attica), the Foundation KASP-Hatzipaterio has been added to the partners' list where Talk and Play is installed and used.
  • 24 Talk and Play systems have been distributed to people who can use them at home (18 children and 6 adults).
  • Other foundations and therapists have expressed their keen interest.
  • Apart from the free software, the research for the hardware has led to a range of options that drastically reduces the overall cost of the solution (from 62% to 89%, depending on the option).
  • An original solution for a wireless switch has been created, and the designs were distributed as open hardware.
  • Communication:
    • The media welcomed Talk and Play: Based on two press releases, there were 15 publications until now in the press.
    • The response on social media was overwhelming: many special posts and thousands of views of the posts.
    • E-Flyers were created.
    • Talk and Play was presented in two events, which were attended by over 250 people.
  • The next steps have been investigated, and all the partners want to proceed to the second phase, being fully satisfied with SciFY cooperation.
  • SciFY continues even today to actively support the project by forming a group of volunteers for support.

 

Project ID

  • Partners: the Recovery Laboratory of the Athens Medical School (Evaggelismos Hospital), ELEPAP, K.K.P.P.A. (Social Care Centre of Attica) ans the Foundation KASP-Hatzipaterio
  • Duration: 05/2016-11/2018
  • Funding: The project was developed by SciFY with an exclusive donation from Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

 

The project was developed by SciFY with an exclusive donation from Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

"And when do I attack?" (Tennis Part 2)

Wednesday, 09 September 2015

When we reached the team of children who were about to test the tennis game, the 2nd of the games  for blind children we create, the friend who guided us there started explaining:

- Well lads, the team over here is from SciFY. They make PC games for blind people. They have made...

- A! It is you!!! I know them! I know you! How about that! Shall we play more;”

I instantly recognized her. It was Athina1, a sharp-witted little one who had tested Tic-Tac-Toe, our first game and was excited about it. But still, I didn’t see this one coming: She was jumping up and down. Her joy was so overwhelming that I wanted to jump up and down myself as well. I held myself.

- Hey Athina, we had promised you we‘d make a second game as well, hadn’t we? Well, here it is, tennis! We want your opinion about it.

After we explained who we are and what we do, we asked who would like to try first. Well, ok, who would dare take Athina’s turn? Not even for a joke.

 

In a while came Alexandra.

- Hallo Alexandra. Do you see anything or you have complete blindness? Nikos asks her.

- But what do you think? Of course I can see! I see my blindness and some black around it (laughs). Black humour.

We have to get used to such humor. These children are incredible! They can break the ice right away.

- So what do you think? Shall we play?

She tried it. She was anxious at the beginning because she hadn’t used a computer for a long time. But soon enough her eyes were sparkling. She was enjoying the game for good. She takes off the headphones.

- It’s very good! Reminds me of goalball! Leave it here with me for a couple of days and I ‘ll play the heck out of it!

Goalball? It sounds familiar. Like some kind of football for blind people if my memory is correct. But I have a weak memory..

- “Yes, right!” she verifies. “I play a lot of years goalball. You must have a well exercized hearing to know where the ball is coming from. Right or left;”

She is bursting with energy. She plays some more, we make the evaluation and afterwards comes the good question:

- And how do we attack?

- Eh, well the athlete in you never sleeps huh? Well, in this game you don’t have to attack. If you successfully repel the ball enough times, you change level.

- What are you talking about? I want to attack it, to give it some hard time!

We discussed how complicated would have to be the sounds in such a case, how much harder the game would become, if it could be played by everyone or only the ones who had an exceptional hearing…

Others joined the conversation as well.

The thirst to play games is incredible. “I want to attack as well.” “But only defending?” “Will you make a football game too?”

I take notes and smile.

Because I know that when I get back in SciFY’s offices, we will continue with even higher spirit what we are already developing: our next moves in creating even more games for blind children, beyond the needs of the project.

Because the thirst, the need in all of us to play is great. In everyone. Not just in a few.

And if we, the “seeing ones” ignore it, in reality we ‘ll be only seeing our blindness.

 

1Some facts of the story, like the names of the children have been changed for reasons of anonymity of the kids.

A Message Worth Waiting for

Saturday, 05 September 2015

Well, that was so heart-warming!

 A few months ago we sent emails to institutions and organisations that are dealing with blindness in order to present them Tic Tac Toe, our new game for blind people! This was the 1st of the computer games for blind children that we are developing, within LEAP project. And of course we asked them to give it a try and let us know what they think of it.

Well, one particular organisation delayed to answer, but their reply was worth the wait. Here is their response:
"[...] We delayed our response, because we wanted to give you a detailed opinion to answer your question! [...] We preferred being valid over being quick!

To put it in a nutshell, all of our friends and members, after they tried and tested your suggestions, expressed high praise for them! "It was, -as they say- like we developed them ourselves, for us." However, despite our insistence, we were unable to submit some concrete proposals for improvement! [...] "

Thank you, friends!

 

You can learn more about LEAP at SciFY’s website and read about the developing process of the game and the children’s reaction even to share your opinion with us.
Subscribe to our Newsletter here to be informed and updated about LEAP project and take part in assistive technologies community for blind and visually impaired.
Follow LEAP project’s pages on Facebook or Twitter.
Also, for more projects follow SciFY on Facebook or Τwitter.

“Cyclops” (tennis testing part 1)

Wednesday, 02 September 2015

(Part 1 of Τesting tennis) 1

We exchanged email addresses with the kids, hugged and teased each other and left really moved. But this is certainly not how it had started a few hours earlier. Well, let’s take it from the beginning. First things first.

First Joy - part 3

Monday, 16 February 2015

(This post is the third part of our story. See parts one and two here)

January 2015.
Sunday night; greek voting night. People are simmering in the anticipation of the voting results – more crucial than many in the past few years. But in the SciFY office, things are running their own course. We did vote in the morning, but tonight we’re recording for the sound-based tic-tac-toe, the first game we made for blind children. On Tuesday the kids will test it. We’ll be ready. We can’t wait! 

First Joy - part 2

Monday, 02 February 2015

 

That Thursday was one of those days that get started on the wrong foot. We were looking forward to it, but all the signs were leading up to a day of defeat. We had worked so hard, we couldn’t wait to show the kids a first draft of the game, to listen to what they thought and now Murphy’s Law, relentless, was upon us. Thankfully, we were once again pleasantly surprised.

But let’s get back to where we were.

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