Memory on hand
Wrist-based tactile feedback to help make memories stick --
As part of my practice in neuropsychology, I facilitate a memory and aging course for healthy older adults that are concerned about largely normal age-related changes in memory (more info at sharpthinking.org/services). The course includes education about how memory changes as age, what constitutes abnormal forgetting, and memory strategies for optimal memory functioning. One of the strategies that I routinely recommend is spaced retrieval - i.e. recalling to-be-remembered information at longer and longer intervals to solidify recall ability. Over the past year or so, I've found myself introducing this technique as the most valuable memory strategy that you will never use as people generally find it quite cumbersome to use in day to day life. I think older adults could benefit from assistive technology in using this spaced retrieval memory strategy. The technology may also have applications with patients with mild cognitive impairment and dementia, but of course these warrant empirical investigation.
Solutions do exist for helping people with the spaced retrieval technique (see apps.ankiweb.net). I imagine a simple mobile app would be quite simple to program as well. However in my experience, even these seemingly simple technologies are a barrier to use for many older adults. As an example, a question I often get in the Memory and Aging course is how to manage multiple paper scheduling systems. The solution so obviously seems to be a digital calendar synced to all devices, however they are reticent to adopt it over a paper system.
For this reason, I think an elegant solution here would be a *very simple* wrist-based device that could prompt the wearer to recall to-be-remembered information at longer and longer intervals - 5s, 10s, 20s, 45s, 2m, 5m, 10m, 20m, 30m, 1h etc. When the wearer encounters a piece of information they know they are likely to forget (e.g. a name, an address, a phone number, a word definition etc.) they would simply press a single button on the wrist-based device, which would then provide haptic feedback to recall the information at longer and longer intervals. I thought a perfect name for a product like this would be "Memory on Hand".