Seam - Creating togetherness and connectedness between individuals with dementia and their loved ones
How to support remote connectedness and togetherness between individuals with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones?
Human-centered design process involving remote user-interviews and participatory workshops over zoom and miro.
Product-service systems enabling the elderly and their loved-ones to remotely communicate with each other by creating a routine of exchanging memories through photos, videos and live video calls.
Remote 10-week group project with Anna Puchalska and
So Heum Hwang at the
Umeå Institute of Design in partnership with Microsoft
Remote Ethnographic Research /
Service design / UX Design/ Filmmaking / Storytelling /
Form-giving / Visualisations
Seam Concept-video, 2020
Dementia and Covid-19
Over 800,000 individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s live alone and they are more likely to experience faster cognitive decline compared to individuals living with someone.
While COVID-19 opened up new opportunities for remote communication, some parts were still not technologically accessible for marginalized groups, including individuals with early Alzheimer’s. We discovered a mixed range of unfulfilled needs — a need for belonging, interacting and sharing meaningful experiences with loved ones — especially when they are alienated in the midst of social distancing.
“If you met a person with dementia, you’ve only met one person. In other words, each individual will talk, act, remember and behave differently. The disease will develop
differently with each individual" - Ulli, caregiver of a dementia patient
Margaret a Dementia patient
A dementia-friendly portal to the digital world
Our proposal consists of a portal and a camera connected to the TV set. While using the portal, users with dementia simply tap the button that lights up whenever they receive a message from their loved ones. This physical tapping experience allows them to easily enter the digital world. Their loved ones can send either photos, films and voice recording. This can remind them of past memories and help to keep in touch, effortlessly.
Due to Seam’s modular composition, loved ones can also have several usage options that they can choose from. They can only use a mobile app to connect or have the app and the portal as well, which provides a more connected experience with individuals with Dementia.
The complete package consisting of a webcam and the portal device and an APP and instructional material
Seam comes in three different configurations
The portal device for recording and accessing messages
The portal device lives in the elderly user living space and is meant to be placed next to the TV station
The camera for video-call at the TV-station
The webcam is primarily meant to be instaled at the elderly user'S TV station but can also be used by the caregivers if they wish to use a larger screen as well
Smartphone application for the caregiver
The system map of Seam
Asynchronous and Synchronous communication
The connection between users can be done both synchronously and asynchronously to create more space for voluntary participation and also to integrate the communication process into their everyday life in a more natural way.
This asynchronous method of sending each other memories whenever they think of each other may not connect them exactly at the same time. However, this maintains both of them to constantly keep in touch by providing flexibility when it comes to communication.
Individuals with Alzheimer's can record and send voice messages, while their loved ones can send voice messages, photos and video content. They can check the content received from their loved ones through a notification light in the portal device.
How content from loved ones can be displayed on the TV
Margarete receiving photographs
from her granddaughter Anna
How users with Alzheimer’s access record messages
Margarete sending voice messages to Anna while she's initiating a video call
Dancing and singing synchronous to Margaret’s favourite song
The key-steps of our process
Seam has been created remotely utilizing digital collaborative tools like Miro and Zoom for doing interviews and workshops or Figma for creating user interfaces and infographics.
Read about our remote process on medium.com and get our remote workshop guide here
In our remote ethnographic user research, we talked and co-created with 10+ ambassadors of Alzheimer patients like caregivers, therapist as well as their family members and friends
Workshop with experts - caregivers, occupational therapists, educational nurses, hospital staff - to identify goals and shaping principles for the design process
Setting up the remote interview framework and creating consent
After successfully scouting for workshop participants in online support groups, therapy centres and in our own community we created a project brief, detailed set-up-instructions and a consent form for our participants
Journey-mapping practices and snow-ball interviews
While we were interviewing out participants we sketched their story journey. In the next step, we revisited their the sketch with the interviewees to qualify their key moments from the journey
Co-creating and validating concepts with the Alzheimer's community
We co-created ideas product ideas together with the community regarding their wishes, values and expertise. In the next step, we askes them validate high-level concepts, interaction flows and form proposals
Ideating, visualizing and prototyping Seam