Deva World showcases at Honor’s inaugural innovation and aging conference, SAGE2019, September 10

Deva World showcases at Honor’s inaugural innovation and aging conference, SAGE2019, September 10

Join us at Honor’s inaugural conference, Sage 2019, on September 10th 2019, where leaders in innovation and aging will share best practices.

We are proud to have been chosen as one of the five companies showcasing at Honor’s Innovation Alcove.

See more details here.

To schedule a hands-on demonstration of Deva World please enter your information here:

I have dementia. I respond to a robotic pet as though it were a real one. Am I being duped? Does it matter?

I have dementia. I respond to a robotic pet as though it were a real one. Am I being duped? Does it matter?

Where do you stand on the ethics of robotic pets versus real ones for people living with dementia? Are we playing with people’s dignity by letting them canoodle with a pet that was assembled on a conveyor belt, a pet they treat as real?

I’ve just come back from the Dementia Action Alliance’s excellent national conference where the subject led to a lively debate. I’ve got skin in the game in so far as my company, Mentia, creates virtual activities of daily life that people impacted by dementia can undertake by simply tapping on a screen. They experience a sense of agency that may no longer be possible in the actual world, and our studies show that these activities have a positive impact on wellbeing

So here is my take on the subject:

I define ‘technology’ as something beyond our bodies that we manipulate to create meaning. The hand dipped in ochre and waved across the cave wall was one of the first technological ideas. Jumping a couple of millennia, a feather becomes a quill pen and now we can offload our thoughts onto paper. We then learn to manipulate the written word to construct ideas, both concrete and in the imagination, to develop more sophisticated constructions than we otherwise could if we limited our thinking to only that which existed in our heads. Jump forward a few centuries and we have the printing press; now we can distribute those ideas. Now consider the internet and the way that it enables information to flow. And AI, which my wise co-founder, Serge Soudoplatoff, explains as “expertise, everywhere”.

Let’s pull up here, and go back to robotic pets.

Why not think of robot pets as intelligence, embodied; a transactional smart object that gets us to where we want to go just like the other technologies I’ve just highlighted. 

These synthetic critters are a way to amplify effect, knowledge, experience. It is not we who question the ethics of a non-biological pet that matters; it’s the person who is stroking that critter. Why rob others of the opportunity to make meaning from the objects around them? After all, every day, each one of us accepts tech-enabled substitutes for the real thing: a musical recording in place of attending a concert, a Skype call instead of a visit, an emoji kiss instead of a peck on the cheek, frequent flyer miles instead of coins in the hand, and so on.

In short, we live in a world where actual and virtual objects and experiences merge together. This may sound unpalatable to some, but when we create meaning from stuff, and they have a real impact on us, that experience is real. In the case of robotic animals, the impact can be visceral, embodied, emotional…real. 

Accepting the interplay is to live in the modern world. You and I coexist with simulation in our everyday lives – why would we prevent people living with dementia to do the same, especially as they have been making meaning from simulations and substitutes throughout their lives? Why stop now?

That said, I’m putting in a request for robotic pets that have fur that doesn’t feel synthetic and the earthy smell of doggy fur and skin. Oh, and I want my regular walks in the park, fragrant flowers in my room, and regular visits from some friendly neighborhood pooches, too.

Thrilled to be profiled by “This Dementia Life”, a vodcast made by members of the Dementia Action Alliance (DAA)

Thrilled to be profiled by “This Dementia Life”, a vodcast made by members of the Dementia Action Alliance (DAA)

“This Dementia Life” Vodcast, Ep #14

 

In this episode of ‘This Dementia Life’, Chuck McClatchey delves into the world of 3D Technology with his guest Mandy Salomon Co-founder and CEO of Mentia, Inc. Mandy talks about their ground-breaking care companion tool, Deva World, a 3D digital world filled with activities that support commonly expressed needs like a sense of belonging, a sense of independence, and the ability to express a life well-lived – all of which get depleted by Alzheimer’s and other related dementias.

We’d like to acknowledge the work of Chuck and producer, Mike Belleville. Both Chuck and Mike are living well with dementia. 

And don’t miss DAA’s upcoming national conference, June 20-22 2019 in Atlanta.
We’ll be there too!

 

“It was a game changer for me to understand how powerful this tool is.”

“It was a game changer for me to understand how powerful this tool is.”

I had the opportunity to visit our customer, Northwood, located in Nova Scotia, the largest not-for-profit continuing care organization in Atlantic Canada. Northwood, which is ‘technology-forward’ is rolling Deva World out across its residential, day, and home care services.
I was welcomed by CEO Janet Simm (pictured) and Margaret Szabo, Director of Business Development. Margaret is a long time advocate of Deva World, but it was the first time she had seen it being used with her own Northwood residents.

I ran demonstration sessions with two residents, each with significant dementia. Both were captivated by Deva World, and invited me afterward to visit their room – their private space – whereupon each described to me the precious objects in their room in detail. Northwood caregivers learned about the origin of some objects in their room.

Our motto is: “we’ll help you, the caregiver, to go into your person’s world; and in their world, you will learn – and together you will have fun”.

It was fascinating to witness the Deva World effect seemingly extend into their actual lives

Margaret’s report is here:
I had the chance to observe as Mandy did a demo of DEVA World at Ivany place with two residents. I was actually floored to see what happened and I think it was a game changer for me to understand how powerful this tool is. It was absolutely amazing to watch the reactions of first one resident and then a second. The best way that I can describe what I saw was it was like Mandy manipulated the environment through DEVA world so that she could enable them to engage and make things happen again and they did (like those videos that you see for music and memory where they wake up!). The absolute joy on their faces and the tangible excitement when they realized what they could do was astounding (even if they went round and round the rooms, they did not seem to get bored even 45 minutes in). Also, they both repeatedly kept crying out and saying how beautiful it was, which really struck me in that the screen display wasn’t, so I wonder if it was more like they were able to see something they hadn’t seen before as parts of their brain awakened? I watched as both of these residents then independently asked Mandy to visit their rooms and remained very physically close to her following the play as the effect seemed to transcend the virtual world back into their real world. This was fascinating as the subsequent behaviors and capabilities that I witnessed were very atypical of these residents given what staff told us (typically very high anxiety, very low initiative, poor memory retention, decreased affect – staff were sure that one of the residents would not be able to play, for example, but then she did with only a bit of support of her hand from me). Staff were thrilled with the outcome and immediately began planning how they could use the tool to help get these residents out of bed in the morning and engaged, which has been quite a challenge apparently. They also thought families would love it and seemed to be very comfortable with using the tool.

Join Mandy at CAHBI’s Innovation Day, Toronto March 20th, 2019

Join Mandy at CAHBI’s Innovation Day, Toronto March 20th, 2019

Cabhi’s Innovation Day puts tech-enabled brain health technology firmly on the agenda, and Mentia’s CEO Mandy Salomon will be a speaker on the day, sharing her insights and research.

Brain health is important to us all, no matter our age and stage of life. For people with cognitive disabilities caused by diseases like Alzheimer’s, this is especially so. Social and physical isolation is can be compounded by internal isolation because it is hard to express to the world who we are, and we’re unsure about our place within it. Mandy will be introducing Mentia’s Deva World to Canadian delegates and explaining how our system acts as a cognitive scaffold, not only reducing stressors for those affected but deepening understandings, thereby reducing care challenges. 
Join Mandy on the 20th if you can.

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