Podcast: Wearable cameras treble memory function in Alzheimer's patients

Alzheimer's sufferers could improve their memory retention threefold if they spent 20 minutes watching a playback of their day as recorded by a wearable camera.

Speaking at Microsoft Cambridge Labs' open day, Vicon CEO Nick Bolton said the images stimulated the hypothalamus, a key organ in controlling brain function. This produces the four key neurotransmitters that help to integrate all five senses and make sense of an event as one memory and one experience that the brain can reflect on and judge.

Bolton said clinical trials of the day's replays had improved the long-term memory retention rates of Alzheimer's patients 300% and had slowed down deterioration in their condition.

Vicon has been making motion-detection cameras for 27 years. Working with Microsoft, it has produced a camera the size of a pack of cigarettes that a person can wear on their chest.

The camera is pre-programmed to take snaps under certain conditions of light and movement. Patients can then relive their day by watching the album in 20 minutes or so.

Vicon bought certain Microsoft patents and algorithms that help to miniaturise the camera, provide enough storage for a day's pictures and provide enough battery power for the whole day.

Bolton said many people had asked for a GPS service to be added to the unit. GPS was tough on battery life, he added, but Vicon was working on the problem.

The company believes the camera may also prove useful in military and policing activities and may also be useful for lone workers who operate in sometimes dangerous or critical situations, such as in social care.

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This was first published in May 2010


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