Keeping track of people with Alzheimer’s
3 MIN READ
‘We called it ‘Backtracks’, says Orla Hannan, about the winning idea her team had for a tracking bracelet designed for people with Alzheimer’s.
Bank of Ireland Transition Year Academy
Orla, from Presentation Community College , Terenure, was in the team that won the Bank of Ireland Transition Year (TY) Academy competition for the Dublin region in 2017.
TY Academies are held, each year, over three days, in Dublin, Limerick, Galway and Cork. At each Academy, students work on a business problem and pitch their solution to judges in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ type final.
At the Dublin event, 90 students were organised into 16 teams.
‘We had to work out pretty quickly each other’s strengths and weaknesses’
‘We were all put into teams,’ says Orla, ‘and no-one from the same school was put in the same team.
That was good because we got to meet new people but also difficult because we didn’t know each other and we had to work out pretty quickly each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Then we had to match our roles to our skills so that, for instance, the artistic person got to do the poster and the mathematician in the team would do the finance section.’
Helping people with Alzheimer’s and their relatives
Eventually, the team settled on a bracelet for Alzheimer’s sufferers.
‘People with dementia sometimes go missing and need to be found quickly.’
The bracelet enabled relatives to quickly check where a person with Alzheimer’s was at any time of the day or night. It also allowed anyone finding the person to help them.
Orla explains, ‘there is a GPS tracker in the bracelet to show the person’s location.
We also decided to put a QR code on it so that anyone with a smartphone could scan it and read important information like the person’s emergency contact, their blood type, their GP.’
More jewellery than tracker
Orla and the team wanted to create a visually appealing tracking device that looked more like a piece of jewellery than a tracker.
Their reason was that people with Alzheimer’s would be more likely to want to wear the device and it would look less obviously like a tracking device which might make people wearing them less vulnerable to exploitation.
‘When we researched existing trackers,’ she says, ‘some were quite chunky, which made it obvious that the people wearing them were being tracked.
We didn’t think that they would want to wear them.’
Comfort and security
At the same time, the team wanted to make sure it couldn’t be removed easily by the wearer.
‘We wanted to ensure that the bracelet needed two hands to take it off so the person themselves couldn’t do it alone.
It would be metal on the outside and silicone band on the inside for comfort.’
The bracelet was designed to be marketed to the sons and daughters of the people with Alzheimer’s but the product could also help professional carers, too.
‘We set the price between €40 and €60 because we wanted to make it affordable.
Some of the trackers we found were over €200 each,’ says Orla.
Facing the judges
When it came to the final day, the whole team had to pitch their idea to the judges.
‘I’m not very good at public speaking,’ admits Orla. ‘I was really nervous, I was shaking and everything, but my teammates were so relaxed.
They did an amazing job!
The judges said that the way we worked as a team was something that really stood out.’
Why go to TY Academy?
Although Bank of Ireland TY Academy teams get the opportunity to come up with their idea for a product or service, they can’t, of course, create a real, saleable product from scratch in three days!
But the experience of being thrown together as a team and working collaboratively to make a difference on a particular social issue helps students to work in a team and solve challenges together.
‘Getting out of my comfort zone’
‘I really enjoyed meeting people from different schools,’ says Orla, ‘and getting out of my comfort zone.
I’m really interested in business and entrepreneurship so I thought it was a really good stepping stone to see if I liked it.’
She says she is considering choosing two subjects, Business and Art, for her Leaving that, combined, might be very useful for marketing a product because, as she says, ‘you could have the most amazing idea but if it isn’t eye-catching then it might not sell.”
Find out more
With the same learning objectives as the Transition Year curriculum, our TY Academy has been developed in collaboration with students and the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST).
Find out more about TY Academy and the Bank of Ireland Schools Programme for primary and secondary schools, click here.
All efforts were made to ensure that the information in this article was accurate at the time of original publication. The content of this article do not constitute financial advice.
Bank of Ireland is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.