Newcastle based Space Architects has teamed up with a Scottish university to create a new company on a mission to promote independent living.
The architecture practice has signed a joint venture and invested a five-figure sum alongside dementia research specialists at the University of Stirling, resulting in new firm Iridis Digital Ltd.
Iridis brings together architecture, research and technology to improve the ageing process, developing new technology aimed at allowing older people and those living with dementia to enjoy a better quality of life for longer, promoting independent living.
The venture has led to the creation of the Iridis app – available at the App Store and Google Play – aimed at assessing how dementia-friendly buildings are and where improvements can be made. The app, the first of its kind, has so far been downloaded 3,000 times.
The joint-venture formalises a partnership that started three years ago.
Space Architects, specialists in the design of buildings that make a meaningful impact on communities, began developing Iridis in 2017, alongside the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) at the University of Stirling.
The DSDC is a recognised world leader in designing for dementia and Space Architects worked closely with the centre’s chief architect Lesley Palmer in the development of the new company.
The Iridis app, backed by organisations including Age Scotland, is available for professional organisations such as care home providers and older people’s services, as well as domestic customers. Through a series of questions, the App allows users to audit and assess the environment where people with dementia live, helping them identify potential problem areas and making recommendations for how to make adaptations that will help those with the disease to live more independently.
Building on the success of the App, the Iridis team will continue to research technology-enabled care and how it can help promote independence in ageing.
With the increase in access to the Internet of Things (IoT) devices, buildings are becoming increasingly smart.
The Iridis team is also developing new technologies which will utilise data and artificial intelligence to optimise the environments of those using Internet of Things devices.
The University of Stirling and Space Architects hope that more organisations and individuals globally will access and use the free app, creating a global data-pool that will help them further develop Iridis, as well as inform ongoing research into design for people living with dementia.
Dr John Rogers, executive director of research and innovation services at the University and director of Iridis Digital Ltd said: “The University of Stirling is recognised internationally by our research programme in the field of dementia and ageing and our international centre for knowledge exchange the Dementia Services Development Centre.
“We have a proven track record of working collaboratively with industry partners to develop evidence-based products and services and Iridis represents the start of an exciting new chapter in the conversation about how the built environment can support healthy ageing.”
David Wise, an associate director at Space Architects who leads the project, said: “It is important to us that we continue to be involved in exciting projects which make a difference. It is well documented that we have an ageing population, but housing stock that doesn’t necessarily meet their needs. This isn’t just a problem in the UK, but internationally.
“Iridis not only allows existing homes and environments to be suitably adapted but when individuals are moving into new premises, they can plan ahead by identifying improvements that will support their dementia needs. It has the potential to help people live more independently for longer – and sometimes small changes can make all the difference, and Iridis can help them with that.”
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