In praise of the ‘My House of Memories’ reminiscence app for people with cognitive disorders

By | December 4, 2014

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This is a beauty!

The National Museum of Liverpool has developed an app for reminiscence, My House of Memories, using resources from its collection.

Here’s why I like it from the design perspective.

1. Bottom-up, not top down. The app is a technology translation of a carefully developed museum project, the House of Memories . The app builds on the experiences of  community of users with their deep understanding of the content and ways it can be used. The developers watched, listened and learned from them.

2.  It’s an activity to be shared between primary users and their support persons. Both are the beneficiaries; enjoying time together supports everyone’s well-being.

3. There are separate in-app guidelines for caregiver and primary user. For the caregiver, the app it situated within a therapeutic framework; it is not not just a set of instructions.

4. Thoughtful design throughout: limited steps to get out of somewhere in the directory and go somewhere else.  The use of pink and white is a visual reminder that this is a part of the app and not an image from the museum stock. Actions are supported by symbols and bite-sized text and narration which mirrors the text, thus assisting the user across multiple communication channels. Directories are culturally specific, users can easily create collections as tapping on one object brings up thematic links, eg pop culture from the 1960′ (this is Liverpool, after-all).

5. The app links to other programs on the tablet/ smart phone device;  for example, users are invited upload a snapshot from their phone, and there is a very simple interface for doing this, or saving a session to the device. Selected objects are stored in the phone program, and can be accessed any time  from outside the app.

6. It’s free – your taxes at work. (Could the Victorian Era historians ever have imagined that ephemera which they argued should be collected and made publicly available would one day end up on a smart device?)

7. No pop ups or requests for in-game purchases

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