Age related memory decline, mild cognitive impairments (MCI), and cognitive impairments that occur with diseases, such as stroke, brain injuries, or early stages of dementia, have negative effects on the ability to navigate and to orient. Affected people who repeatedly start experiencing disorientation events often become scared of venturing out alone and consequently turn recluse and do not participate in social life anymore.
The aim of the project is to provide a system that provides orientation and navigation support to take away the fear of getting lost, but without keeping the person in “leading-strings”. We therefore will develop a mobile navigation companion for elderly pedestrians. We envision that this navigation companion will work in three different modes:
Instead of giving precise navigation instructions throughout the journey the system will only follow the user’s movement and provide coarse spatial cues, such as direction and distance of the next intermediate goal, such as a bus stop. Users will have to find their own routes, which will stimulate their spatio-cognitive abilities instead of replacing them technically.
In case of getting lost or entering unfamiliar terrain users can switch to the navigation mode. To accommodate research findings with respect to pedestrian navigation and elderly people we will focus on providing simple cues that are tied to landmarks instead of distances, such as “turn right in fifty metres”.
If the navigation support is not enough to overcome the user’s disorientation a phone contact between the user and the relative can be established. Relatives then can give the user moral support and help them recover their orientation. Therefore the system temporarily shares the user’s location with the called relative and highlights landmarks that the relative can use to guide the user.