Echo: Meet the comforting device for people with Alzheimer’s disease


With a solid base of research including Alzheimer’s disease, music therapy, reminiscent therapy, fidgeting, and Alzheimer’s disease caregivers, the Echo system was designed into a feasible product solution to bring benefits to both the elder and the families by enhancing the connection between them.

We interviewed Leslie Mu and Mia Feng, from the Echo team and winners of the Future Creator Awards NY by ARTS THREAD and WGSN, to ask them what was their inspiration for the prototype and how it was developed.

WGSN: Where did you get the inspiration for the Echo project?

Leslie and Mia: We found that music therapy and reminiscent therapy have been very practical treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease, but developing an accessible and affordable product has yet been overlooked. We started then with visualising the symptoms of synaesethesia and explored applicable design paths.

In addition, Leslie’s grandpa has been a real sufferer of AD, thus we decided to tackles the problem for not only people with AD but also their caregivers and family, providing a holistic care and thoughtful mental support.


WGSN: How would Echo help people with Alzheimer’s disease?

Leslie and Mia: On one hand, music therapy provides the elders intimacy and reminiscence which comforts their emotions and potentially prevents memory loss. Thus, by playing the music that the elder liked, the product brings a sense of belonging.

On the other hand, the service system enhances the connection and communication among the elder and his/her family members, especially if there are spacial or timing difficulties. By sending voice messages, the family members could have more opportunities to deliver their care and affection to the elder. The small round wooden textures on the side of the product helps the elder to practice finger movements, which could effectively improve physical and mental wellness.

We hope Echo can connect AD patients and their loved ones on an emotional level by keeping them in contact with each other.


WGSN: How does the project work with the app? 

Leslie and Mia: Echo is a product service system design that consists a physical device and digital application.

The elder will have the amplifier and carers will be using the mobile application. Carers can use the app to record voice messages, set the playtime and repeat time, and sync the data to the amplifier by Bluetooth or a cord at the time they visit. The system is designed to incorporate this short-distance data transforming method because it avoids Echo becoming a discouragement for family members to visit the elder. Instead, the caregivers would have to visit in order to transform the data. When the elder has the amplifier, every time before the messages are played there will be a short piece of music to inform the elder so that he/she wouldn’t be agitated.


At other times, the amplifier is a medium for music therapy that plays the songs the elder used to like. The playlist, volume, looping schedule, and frequency will be determined by carers and set up from the Echo app. On the amplifier there’s no physical control because in this way it avoids misuse or confusion for the elder.

When carers wish to learn more about AD or feel over stressed, they could use the Echo Care function in the app to consult a real therapist. At the first time using it the carer will enroll into the programme, go through a professionally developed questionnaire, and based on the answer the programme will match 3 experts who know both general counselling and Alzheimer’s disease. After choosing one of the exports, the carer could text the him/her anywhere anytime when have questions or concerns.

Join ARTS THREAD upcoming competitions and know more about Echo by visiting xmudesign.com and Mia-feng.com

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