People with memory-​​impairing dis­eases, such as Alzheimer’s, are not only losing their memories—they’re also losing their inde­pen­dence. And as memory loss worsens, they rely may more on others to help them with daily tasks.

For a senior cap­stone project, a team of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity engi­neering stu­dents sought a way to help, knowing that more than 15 mil­lion Amer­i­cans suffer from some form of dementia. Using Google Glass, the stu­dents devel­oped a pro­gram called Memory Assis­tive Glasses, or MAG, which could help indi­vid­uals with memory impair­ments iden­tify people they come in con­tact with and pro­vide instruc­tions for everyday tasks.

The team of Matthew Mahagan, Stephen Morin, Evan Scorpio, Chris Valek, and Michael Har­rington, all E’14, took second place in this year’s Elec­trical and Com­puter Engi­neering cap­stone com­pe­ti­tion. Waleed Meleis, asso­ciate pro­fessor of elec­trical and com­puter engi­neering, served as the stu­dents’ fac­ulty adviser.

For its senior capstone project, a team of engineering students developed a program using Google Glass. The students say it could help memory-impaired individuals identify people they come in contact with and perform daily tasks. Photo by Mariah Amasanti.

For its senior cap­stone project, a team of engi­neering stu­dents devel­oped a pro­gram using Google Glass. The stu­dents say it could help memory-​​impaired indi­vid­uals iden­tify people they come in con­tact with and per­form daily tasks. Photo by Maria Amasanti.

Here’s how MAG works: Infor­ma­tion about friends and family mem­bers is added to a data­base on a pri­vate server using an Android appli­ca­tion. Then, using the Google Glass, the user takes a pic­ture of someone. The server, in turn, per­forms facial recog­ni­tion and returns the infor­ma­tion about that person to the user via Google Glass. The process takes all of three seconds.

In addi­tion to iden­ti­fying indi­vid­uals, the system is also capable of pro­viding instruc­tions for var­ious tasks. The pro­gram has QR codes that users can assign to cer­tain objects in their home, such as a coffee pot or a trash can. For example, the user could scan the coffee pot’s QR code and step-​​by-​​step instruc­tions for making coffee would appear on the Google Glass.

It can help you with any infor­ma­tion you need to know,” Har­rington said, “because you create the database.”

The idea for the project derived from Lifestream, Inc., a Bed­ford, Massachusetts-​​based human ser­vices orga­ni­za­tion that works with Northeastern’s Enabling Engi­neering stu­dent group.

In addi­tion to helping people with memory loss, MAG could also help users com­plete cer­tain tasks, group mem­bers said.

Lifestream told me that if it were an autistic person’s job to empty trash­cans in a large room, having the instruc­tions readily avail­able could keep them on track,” Meleis said. “As a way to pro­mote inde­pen­dence, it would be nice if the glasses could flash instruc­tions and reminders.”

Going for­ward, Meleis said, the hope is that Enabling Engi­neering mem­bers will con­tinue working on the project, with cap­stone team mem­bers serving as advisers.

The senior capstone team works on its project, Memory Assistive Glasses. Photo by Mariah Amasanti.

The senior cap­stone team works on its project, Memory Assis­tive Glasses. Photo by Maria Amasanti.