The 2018 global Smart Ageing Prize, aimed to improve older people’s lives using accessible digital technologies, has announced three winners of the challenge.

Winners include KOMP, a one button computer connecting generations, Refresh by How Do I?, a video app that supports people with memory loss with day-to-day tasks, and PlaceCal, a social network that brings communities together.

A collaboration between the Active and Assistive Living (AAL) Programme and Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre, the Smart Ageing Prize recognises the issue of social isolation and loneliness among older adults, seeking digital technologies that facilitate real world interactions to improve quality of life.

AAL’s Marco Carulli commented: “As global research suggests , supporting older people to participate fully in social life can help them remain active and healthy for longer .

“Digital technologies have the potential to act as a broker for stimulating social experiences that improve wellbeing, and the Smart Ageing Prize is incentivizing and supporting entrepreneurs to reach more people and change lives for the better.”

Five finalist teams had the opportunity to pitch their innovative projects on stage at the AAL Forum, after which the results were announced.

Constance Agyeman from Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre said: “We were looking for ideas that could really enhance the quality of someone’s social life – whether that be from their home or supporting them to get out and about.

“We have seen an incredible breadth of ideas and the most powerful ones were the simplest and user friendly – ideas that focused on connecting people and the world around them and we hope the Prize will allow the innovators to connect more of our ageing population, across the globe.”

KOMP was proclaimed the overall winner of the challenge, winning £31,000, with PlaceCal and Refresh by How Do !? taking the runner up prizes.

No Isolation developed KOMP, a one-button computer that allows family and friends to share photos, messages and make video calls. It is designed with and for older people (75 and above) who have little or no technological knowledge and features a high contrast screen, no touchscreen and a loud audio connection.

An unlimited number of family members can be invited to share moments through the KOMP app, allowing for greater participation within families. It is not designed to replace physical meetings, but aims to make the time between them feel shorter.

Cathrine Karlson from No Isolation said: “This means a lot to us as a company. We know that KOMP is something many families need. Receiving the Smart Ageing Prize is major for building both credibility and awareness around KOMP.

“Now we can continue our work with making KOMP available for people across Europe, ensuring that even more families experience the positive impact KOMP has on everyday communication.”

Refresh by How Do I? is a mobile app that links video to living and working spaces. It gives people with memory loss confidence and supports them to live, work and socialise more independently through step-by-step video guidance.

The app uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to deliver instructional videos on how to complete everyday tasks, such as making a cup of tea.

When an NFC-enabled phone or tablet is tapped against a HowDoI? sticker, placed on any object, it automatically launches an instructional video relevant to a particular task. For example, if you put the sticker on a kettle, a step-by-step instruction video on how to make a cup of tea would be launched, which the user can follow independently and at their own pace.

Taryl Law, COO and Co-Founder of How Do I?, commented: “Being part of the Smart Ageing Prize has given us access to high-calibre experts and advisors, and we’ve learned a lot from the other finalists as well.

“We’re honoured to have placed in such a strong field and are so pleased to receive this vote of confidence from the judging panel.”

A social network designed to facilitate real world interactions, the final award winner PlaceCal is a partnership of community organisations, charities, social housing providers, government services, health providers, and residents.

Its aim is to help people find out about small local events that can be hard to discover such as coffee mornings, sewing groups, computer classes and gardening groups.

Stefan White, Professor of Architecture (Manchester School of Architecture), from PlaceCal commented: “We need to work together to improve the quality, quantity and accessibility of community data to make smarter and better connected neighbourhoods that work for everyone.

“We need to find a way to have our social resources valued in the UK and to do this we need to start joining up the fragmented programmes. The Smart Ageing Prize will help us make some of these transformations.”

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