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Stuart Arnott

When I tell people about Mindings I always introduce it as something I built to help me be better connected to my Dad - by enabling me to share pictures, text messages, calendar reminders and social media content, all onto a digital screen that he doesn't need to touch.

This is all true, and my Dad loves being able to see regular pictures of his five year old granddaughter - in her new school uniform on the first day of term, practising her ballet or taekwondo, or even just playing on a climbing frame in the park.  I can also send him text messages, just to let him know what I'm doing that day or to remind him to pick up his prescription. I can add everything from doctors' appointments, to family birthdays, to my sister's shift patterns, onto a calendar that becomes his daily schedule. And, I can connect him to the main social media services so he's "in the loop" and knows what we're all up to.  Best of all, by lightly touching the screen when a new picture or message comes in, I get a text message - letting me know that he's alive, well and interacting with the world. And you have no idea how wonderfully reassuring that is.

Mindings inspiration & personal journey

However, the spark of inspiration to create Mindings wasn't actually related to my Dad. Mindings was originally created for my Mum. On the week that my wife and I discovered that we were having a baby, we also discovered that my Mum had been diagnosed with cancer.  It was unlikely that Mum would ever see her first grandchild's first birthday.

Determined to give my Mum as much of a grandmother experience as possible we visited as often as we could, and I took loads of pictures and posted them every other day.  Had my parents been technically-minded I could, of course, have emailed the pictures.  However, like many older people, they were quite technology-shy so that wasn't really an option.

So, I bought one of the first generation of digital picture frames and set it up in my parents' home.  It was very poor quality, by no means instant, and difficult to manage. Basically if you wanted the person to see a new picture from the dozens that had built up, you had to switch it off and on again.  However, on the day of my daughter's birth I was able to send a picture to the frame, phone Mum and say "you're a grandmother".  The tears on the other end of the phone let me know how much it meant to her, and I knew that magically being able to share the moment with a picture made it extra special.  

MindingsI set to work to make a better digital picture frame - and on the journey I discovered that it could do so much more. My mum didn't make it to CJ's first birthday. But daily she shared every little moment of her first nine months. Every little smile, every new experience - all captured on camera and instantly shared with "granny" in her last few months.

I didn't create Mindings to help with Mum's passing. But I know that in her last few months she was better connected with her family than she had ever been, and she left us knowing that we were well, happy and embarking on an exciting adventure together, and I know how reassuring that was for her.

 

(This post was written by Stuart Arnott ahead of Social Media Week 2013. Stuart founded Mindings to help those suffering from dementia and loneliness. Mindings is a tablet application that helps those who may feel lonely and venerable receive media from various social networks, SMS etc directly to a tablet or connected device. During 'Death, Digital Demise, Community & Digital Legacy' Stuart will probe why technology is often overlooked as a way to combat loneliness, dementia and end of life care. Stuart will then provide practical advice on how one can combat this based on the experience he has attained. If you would like to attend click here for a free ticket). 

 

DeadSocial, 'Death, Digital Demise, Community & Digital Legacy' at Social Media Week London

 

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