The World Health Organization estimates that more than 55 million people worldwide suffer from dementia. As the proportion of older people in the population is increasing in nearly every country, this number is expected to rise to 78 million in 2030 and 139 million in 2050.
The MIT Media Lab Fluid Interfaces team and member company NTT DATA have been collaborating on a project called Rhizome. The project has the challenging goal of improving the lives of patients with an early stage of dementia, including Alzheimer’s. (The word Rhizome is of Greek origin and means a continuously growing mass of roots.)
Rhizome is an intelligent digital memory book that aims to help dementia patients with their memories – a digital therapeutics tool based on reminiscence therapy. Patients can use Rhizome to recollect, rehearse their memories, and reflect on their personal stories. The Rhizome system replaces handmade, paper-based memory books that are normally made by the patient's families and caregivers.
Patients can engage with Rhizome in several different modes to help keep their memories alive for longer, recover their lost memories, and feel more connected to their loved ones. Rhizome uses memory graph analysis and AI to map the patient’s memories. The tool’s functionality showcases memories, identifies friends and family members, and generates memories game questionnaires. We hope that the system will offer opportunities for doctors and caregivers to monitor the patient’s memory decline and evaluate the impact of specific treatments.
The following video is an overview of Rhizome, reflecting the team’s vision and collaboration.