A curious intersection between artificial intelligence, photography and dementia

By Dr Amanda Moffatt
Project Lead, Sortal:Legacy

At the heart of Sortal is a passion for people and their stories, told through the emotional connection to images.  It has always been our intention to use our technology to improve the lives of others through social enterprise. To this end Sortal: Legacy is conceived.

This new venture aims to apply Sortal’s powerful AI technology to support individuals, families and carers touched by dementia. This combined with an interactive and engaging interface specifically designed for therapeutic outcomes and memory enhancement provides a tool for clinical application for health professionals working in dementia care.

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Why dementia?

Dementia is now considered a global pandemic. Every 3 seconds a new case is diagnosed. In Australia, dementia is the second leading cause of death. The challenge of an ageing population where people live longer means more people will be touched by dementia.

According to the United Nation’s World Population Ageing 2017 Highlights report, 1 in 5 people in Europe and North America is aged over 60. This number has doubled since 1980 and will double again by 2050. The World Health Organisation estimates over 50 million people over the age of 60 are living with dementia and this is increasing. With memory loss comes a loss of self, agency and identity. There is no cure for dementia and cognitive decline can be rapid, as our team knows first hand.

There is hope

Neuroscience has shown promising results with a variety of therapies focusing on memory retention and neuroplasticity.

Engaging people with their memories through images, music, spoken stories and familiar objects are used as proven therapeutic interventions for those living with dementia. The challenge for families and those living with a difficult diagnosis is finding the time and energy to capture these elements. To sort through photos, compile folders and create biographies requires a variety of digital skills, software and labour - and this is where technology can help, specifically, artificial intelligence.

How we can help

Sortal is proven to not only sort large data sets such as photos, but also connects these images with the emotional context in which they occurred. So applying our technology to support patients and their families to preserve memories is a natural fit.

Sortal: Legacy will help families and carers navigate the digital junk to find what is important and valuable. At a time when people can feel powerless, Sortal:Legacy can empower them and give people more quality time with their loved one. Sortal’s persona as a personal assistant and companion can ‘walk and talk’ people through the creation of their biographies, helping personalise the digital experience as people curate their own legacy.

More to come

Over the coming months we will be providing a variety of information about the Sortal: Legacy project and the exciting features we are building into our interface to make a dynamic game changer in the field of memory enhancement. Keep an eye on our social channels for updates!

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About the author

Dr Amanda Moffatt joins the Sortal team and is tasked with overseeing this exciting new project. She comes with over 20 years experience in the education and creative sector as a qualified teacher, learning consultant, writer, researcher and producer. With a proven track record in developing projects that support innovative solutions for the age care sector, Amanda is passionate about supporting those living with dementia, as her father has Lewy bodies dementia and many of the features we are designing come from lived experience.

Majella Edwards