November 24, 2007
Reading for November 27th, are now posted. Enjoy!

October 2, 2007
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May 24, 2008
This site has been archived and is no longer editable. Stay tuned for the next version, coming in the fall!

What Am I Forgetting?

Project Members: 
Eun Kyoung Choe
Jill Blue Lin
Matt Chew Spence


Project Description

All of us frequently leave our houses, forgetting to bring
something we desperately need that day - cellphone, presentation for
work, packed lunch, etc. Or, we forget to do something critical such as
close all the windows or turn off the lights. For people with
Alzheimer's Disease (AD), this problem becomes greatly exaggerated. The
early stages of AD involve mild forgetfulness such as remembering
recent events, activities, or the names of familiar people or things.

Our project, "What am I Forgetting?", is a product which serves as a memory aid for people with AD and their caretakers. "What am I Forgetting"
is a doorknob that reminds people what they need to do or have with
them before they leave the house. The doorknob serves as a last
reminder directly at the point of departure. The doorknob can also
serve to automatically turn off selected household appliances and

Inputs and Outputs

  • Input object: Doorknob (or handle), RFID reader, pressure sensor in doormat
  • Input action: Rotating (user turns knob to leave the house), proximity of hand-held items to RFID reader in door jamb.
  • Output objects: Doorknob, door, household appliances and objects (alarm, lights, oven, etc.)
  • Output actions:
    • Doorknob vibrates to alert the user of a messages.
    • Important simple messages are projected onto the door
    • Pre-programmed household appliances and fixtures can be automatically turned on or off.
    • The color of doorknob implies information (e.g. weather info)
    • Audio reminders (e.g. "You forgot your keys")

Use cases

Case 1:

An early stage AD patient notices that she has been leaving her
house without her wallet, causing a great deal of inconvenience once
she gets to work or the grocery store. Using our product, she places an
RFID inside her wallet or on her keychain. Whenever she turns her
doorknob to leave the house, her doorknob flashes and vibrates harshly
whenever she does not have her wallet or keys with her. The harsh
vibration serves as a reminder for her to find and bring her wallet.

Case 2:

An early stage AD patient frequently forgets to take his medication
before leaving his house in the morning. He programs our product to
help him remember. When he turns his doorknob to leave the house in the
morning, the doorknob vibrates and a message is projected onto the door
reminding him to take his medication. The house knows who he is by
using the RFID fob on his key ring.

Case 3:

An early stage AD patient is concerned that she has been leaving
the TV and all the lights on when she leaves her home. She connects her
TV, lights, and for good measure her oven and stove, to our product.
When she turns her doorknob, a warning is displayed notifying her that
the connected fixtures and appliances are still on; she can then turn
these off using our product.

Case 4:

An early stage AD patient is leaving without an umbrella when it's
going to rain outside. When she touches the doorknob, the doorknob
turns blue and a message is displayed on the door, notifying her that
it will rain in the afternoon.

Case 5:

An early stage AD patient forgets to check the amount of water in a
pet's water bowl before leaving the house. A sensor determines if the
bowl needs water, and if so, the doorknob flashes, a message appears on
the door, and an audio alert sounds.


Group Observations --

Group Observations -- Excellent observation considering the doorknob as the last thing you touch before leaving the house.

System -- Nice job considering all the different mappings. However, we had trouble seeing where the different mappings you guys came up with came from. Some of the mappings seem to be slightly unnatural and it would be interesting to carefully consider how your users might respond to this or how you can address this in your design. E.g., how will users learn what "vibrate" or "glowing blue" means? Is it possible to simplify the number of mappings users have to learn? Have you considered how a user would configure the system? There are several items which we need to have with us everyday. But there are also several items which are more exceptional. How does one program a system to make sure that you have that one particular item on a rare occasion, and how do you do the mapping? The user seems to have limited interaction with the system and it seems to be primarily a display system triggered by the doorknob. Can you envision other ways in which tangibility can play a role in this vital moment of your day? How does the doorknob know which person is leaving?

Use-Case Scenarios -- You guys did an excellent job considering your use-case scenarios.

Related Work -- There has been a lot of work in assistive technologies. Those related to memory usually involve reminding people when to take their medication. (e.g. Vurgun, S. and Philipose, M. A Statistical Reasoning System for Medication Prompting. Proceedings of Ubicomp 2007.) You may also want to consider some technology implemented in various smart house systems . (e.g.

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