Young Minds Tackle Challenges Of Alzheimer’s

Last week I attended an all day conference hosted by the Stanford Center on Longevity.  The event centered around the centers first student Design Challenge and was themed “maximizing independence for those with cognitive impairment.”

There were 52 submissions from 15 countries of which 7 finalists were selected to present.  The finalists came from as far as Singapore and Copenhagen and as close as San Francisco.  The winning idea — as selected by a panel of educators, senior care professionals, and investors — was EatWell created by Sha Yao representing the Academy of Arts University in San Francisco.

Ms. Yao’s seven piece tableware set addresses the daily challenges people with Alzheimer’s face.  According to Ken Smith, Center on Longevity’s Director of Mobility and one of the organizers of the challenge, “blue was chosen as the color of the insides of bowls because dementia sufferers can become confused when the food and bowl have similar colors.  As spills are common when bowls are tipped to get the final bits out, Yao designed a slanted bottom that eliminates the need to tip.  The cups have low centers of gravity and are difficult to knock over.”

The second place idea was Taste+ – a spoon that electronically stimulates the taste buds to enhance the saltiness or sourness of foods for people with diminished taste.

Taste+ (photo credit: PBS Newshour)


And, third place was awarded to Memory Maps – a system that allows people with early stage memory loss to record their memories of the place around them.

MemoryMaps (photo credit: PBS Newshour)

Memory Maps

I am encouraged that the Design Challenge exists and that students from around the world are creating products to improve the lives of those with cognitive impairments.

Photo Credits: EatWell Sha Yao, Taste+ and Memory Maps PBS Newhour


  1. What nice ideas! I hope they become commonly available!


    1. EatWell is going to be manufactured this year. I’m not sure about the other products, but I have to believe the students are committed to their inventions so hopefully they will become reality.


    1. Thanks for reblogging this post.


  2. […] The center also hosts a Design Challenge, asking college students from around the world to design products addressing issues faced by older adults.  Last year’s inaugural Design Challenge sought ways to maximize independence for people with cognitive impairments.  Read about the winners in my post, Young Minds Tackle Challenges of Alzheimer’s. […]


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