Valley students seek to aid Alzheimer’s patients with inventions

January 2, 2013

By Staff

It’s not meant to be disrespectful. They are all children after all.

But the group of boys wanting to ease the struggles of Alzheimer’s patients through technology named their team the iForgot.

That’s just about where the jokes end for the six middle-schoolers from the Snoqualmie Valley. They all know what they are up against. They know too well.

A quick survey of the group reveals that three members have grandparents with Alzheimer’s disease.

“It is so destructive,” Quinn Gieseke said of the disease, which affects one of his grandparents. “And it can’t be cured.”

Gieseke and his buddies Hari and Vishnu Rathnam, Beau Johnson, Rahul Chaliparambil and Rahul Raj want to, if not cure, at least improve the lives of people in the early stages of the disease.

Budding technology experts all, the middle-schoolers have an ambitious project called the Holokayne.

The Holokayne (pronounced Holo-Cane) is a cane that would serve not just as a source of stability for ailing senior citizens, but would also carry mechanisms including a hologram, a GPS, a voice assistant, a database and recorder, face-recognition software and a daylight simulator.

“For those seniors affected by sundown syndrome,” Gieseke added.

Sundown syndrome, though not considered an “official” disease, relates to the agitation some dementia-afflicted seniors feel in late afternoons.

All of the mechanisms would make senior citizens’ lives easier, group member Hari Rathnam said. Many of them live alone, Gieseke added, and they may need a little help.

The Holokayne would help seniors remember things. Given the severity of Alzheimer’s, the cane would be most useful early on, Rathnam said, when the disease is attacking the short-term memory.

The cane itself would be made of titanium, have a grooved-rubber handle to help grip it and would carry a 35-terabyte memory. Each terabyte is the equivalent of 1,024 gigabytes.

The rubber handle would keep hands warm, and the holograms would allow real-time communication with family and friends.

Both Rathnam boys and Chaliparambil are the group’s veterans. They represented the Valley in the state Lego robotics competition last year. They are taking the Holokayne to this year’s competition.

“Our team won the champions’ award and is going to the state finals in February,” team mentor Ram Rathnam wrote in an email.

Hari Rathnam, Ram’s son, said the cane has not been invented, but that does not mean it can’t. The super-loaded cane is closer to future reality than to pipe-dream.

The technology is there, he insists.

“It could probably be done in a couple of years with the technology we have,” he said.


Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or

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