For Daniel Tian ‘19, the project was personal. When his grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he wanted to find a way to help him remember his family and friends. This summer, while attending the Wharton School’s Management & Technology Summer Institute (M&TSI) at the University of Pennsylvania, he had the opportunity to further the research he began while part of Berkshire’s Advanced Math/Science Research program.
Tian and a team of students at M&TSI created AlzHelp, a device that uses facial recognition technology to help patients recall friends and family when memory fails. The project was so impressive, the team earned the “Innovation Award” at the program finals, an apt and particularly noteworthy accomplishment for a program filled with talented, budding entrepreneurs.
“While the use of AI and image recognition software for Alzheimer’s patients is not novel in itself,” explained Dr. April Burch, director of the Advanced Math/Science Research program, “the development of a device that attaches to eyeglasses and projects information like Google smart glasses is novel and multidisciplinary, showing the value of the collaborative aspect of the M&TSI program."
“Being in AMSR since my sophomore year was definitely one of the most rewarding experiences of my Berkshire career, and, looking back, Dr. Burch’s support enabled me to pursue AI and create so many exciting projects,” Tian said.
“Since the program ended in July, the team has been brainstorming ways to most effectively take AlzHelp to the real world and gain feedback from patients; this includes leveraging the AMSR mentorship network to improve our AI algorithm, reaching out to Alzheimer’s communities for initial testers, and possibly even pivoting to a phone app,” he continued. “As a Berkshire Bear, I am so grateful and humbled by just how many of us from the Berkshire community and social media share this same vision.”
“I’m super proud of how Daniel collaborated with the team to use their expertise to enhance the idea and to accomplish this goal,” said Burch.