Peter Ford’s inspiring story

Tonight on Australian Story I watched Peter Ford’s story of his work to invent a computer program that interfaces with people with profound communication problems to enable them to communicate. Think of Stephen Hawking.

Peter Ford was a reporter who discovered the joy of writing computer code and found himself writing programs that could be used to break open the locked world of people with Motor Neuron Disease, veterans with spinal cord injuries and many others.

Hawking worked with Peter Ford to refine his program so that he and others could use it to communicate, move their chairs, manipulate and use the world around them when once they were locked behind an invisible wall of silence and immobility.

His invention can be found at

Congratulations Australian Story!

Assistive technology for people with dementia

Around the world there is an increasing focus on finding ways to support people with AD and others dementias to live in their homes and enjoy their lives for as long as they can.

Recent developments include using movement monitoring equipment that we have in our own homes to enable people with dementia to remain safe. These sensors  can also help researchers understand the pattern of movements that are characteristic of each person and then look for changes in regular movement patterns that may predict illness conditions such as heart attacks.

GPS technology has also been combined with GSM mobile phone technology to enable people who are lost to be found quickly. This is major step forward in providing an unobtrusive and secure environment of security for the person with dementia. Boundary alerts can enable people living at home or in residential care to be found quickly, avoiding the distressing experience of being confused and alone in a strange environment for the person with dementia.

Computers in homes are being used to help people stay in touch with relatives via skype and touchscreen icon photos of the people they want to talk to. They are also being programmed with games and other forms of cognitive stimulation to support the person’s cognitive function.

This is only a small taste of the use of the technology that is available in experimental form and in some cases practically available today.