For our final project in a tangible computing course at the University of Calgary, Andrew Zimmer, Justin Quaintance, and I were challenged with creating a tangible device for seniors with dementia. MEMDEX is a tangible split flap display system, designed to help seniors quickly recall information about the important people in their lives when receiving a phone call. When the phone rings, MEMDEX always flips to the appropriate contact card.  A lever on the side of the enclosure allows for them to also flip through their contacts manually. The analog interface makes the device more accessible and “low tech” for seniors when compared to a digital alternative, while also presents a relatively high amount of data in a dense space.

Some initial sketches created for the project:

We followed an Instructables guide for building the enclosure, with minor modifications made due to the availability of materials. First, enclosure was laser cut from a sheet of transparent acrylic then glued together. We then 3D printed the wheel parts and stuck them together using cut-to-fit wooden rods. An Arduino was used to control the entire system, with connected stepper motors and dial control for input. Three buttons were also connected for ‘favourite contacts’, which made it easy to demo the system to the class. Our final system looked like:

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