Longevity Network
  • Mar 01, 2017
  • Entrepreneur Spotlight, Daily Essential Activities, Social Well-being

Entrepreneur of the Week: Emma Yang, Timeless

Entrepreneur of the Week: Emma Yang, Timeless

Timeless is a mobile app aimed at improving the lives of those suffering from Alzheimer’s, like 13-year-old Emma Yang’s grandmother who was her inspiration for designing the app. Timeless is currently a functional prototype but Emma has plans to crowdsource the funds to make it a fully functional app (see last question in the interview).

We spoke with Emma about Timeless and the opportunities she sees in the 50+ market.   

Longevity Network: What does the Timeless app do?

Emma Yang: Timeless is a simple and easy to use mobile app for Alzheimer’s patients to remember events, stay connected and engaged with friends and family, and to recognize people through automatic Artificial Intelligence based facial recognition technology.

LN: Can you tell us about the your platform/services and how it works?

EY: The key features of Timeless are: Updates (a stream of photos with the names and relationship of the people [e.g. Paul, Brother] tagged in the photo), Photos (a photo album where the pictures are grouped by person), and Identify (where a patient can take a picture of a person and the app identifies him/her by name and relationship in real time). The identification and relationship tagging of the persons are powered by Artificial Intelligence based facial recognition technology. The app also has functions for event reminders and assisted calling and texting. These functions help the patients to remember important events such as family or doctor visits, as well as make it easier for the patients to call friends yet avoid repeated callings as they might forget an earlier call.

Timeless helps Alzheimer’s patients remember and recognize family and friends, connect with loved ones, and cherish the timeless moments in life. The application provides a variety of research-backed solutions that address a wide range of problems caused by the disease that affect the day-to-day life of Alzheimer’s patients. Timeless is also designed to be simple and easy-to-use for patients.

LN: What opportunity did you see that you wanted to address with the creation of Timeless?

EY: After doing extensive market research, I found out that none of the apps on the market related to Alzheimer’s disease are targeted for the patients themselves. The available apps only targeted caregivers seeking help or people who want to learn more about the disease. I wanted to leverage the power of artificial intelligence and mobile technology to help Alzheimer’s patients like my Grandma stay connected with friends and family. Hence, I took up the opportunity and developed an app to close this gap.

LN: Who are your primary users? How can/does Timeless benefit the 50+ population?

EY: The primary users of Timeless is the population with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.

Alzheimer’s disease is a serious problem around the world. Alzheimer’s is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that affects 44 million people worldwide. In the US, one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. The disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the US, affecting more than 5 million Americans. Not only does the disease affect the patient, but also caregivers, including family, friends and care professionals. According to research, people with Alzheimer’s experience problems with forgetting appointments or important events, having difficulty remembering and recognizing people, and difficulty with familiar tasks.

With the functions and features mentioned above, Timeless can not only help the patients remember and connect with their loved ones, it also help them in their daily lives.

LN: How did you assemble your team?

EY: I work on Timeless myself as a single person team. I came up with the idea of Timeless myself, and I also created the feature set, and worked on the creation of the User Interface, user workflow, and did the development of the working prototype myself. However, I am very fortunately to be supported by two very kind experts in the field.

I consulted with Dr. Melissa Kramps, a specialist in the Alzheimer’s Disease & Memory Disorders Program at the New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center on the functions and features of the app.

On the technical side, I also collaborated with Mr. Cole Calistra, the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) and his team at Kairos, a human analytics technology startup in Miami which developed the AI facial recognition platform which i am leveraging to implement the facial recognition aspect of the app.

LN: How has Timeless differed from what you envisioned it would be (if at all)?

EY: The design and development process of Timeless mostly fall into my expectation. The greatest challenge is testing and adoption of the app by the patients and their family and friends. In order to address this, I am reaching out to relevant organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association to seek assistance to gain access to patients for testing. I am also developing plan to create awareness and encourage adoption through marketing campaigns, and raise awareness through organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association.

LN: What do you wish you had known before developing Timeless?

EY: The challenge of getting access to patients and their family and friends who can provide help in testing and advice on feature set of the application.

The challenge of raising funds for an application which goal is for a social cause, rather than for profit.

LN: What most excites you about the aging and or health technology market?

EY: Mobile is an ubiquitous platform which changes everyone’s life. However, vast majority of the available applications are targeted at the younger user population. Seldom would there be applications that are designed with the need of the elderly in mind, let alone those with illness and purpose is to make their daily life easier. I hope Timeless can change that.

LN: What is your best piece of advice for startups who want to include or target the 50+ market?

EY: Spend the time and effort to thoroughly understand the patient’s need. Conduct research and talk to actual patients and observe their daily life to determine what will be useful for them.

LN: Do you have any other products in development?

EY: Timeless is the only product that I am working on now. I am focusing on taking it from a prototype to a real product. I’m working on further improving the User Interface and User Experience, consulting with my mentor (Mr. Cole Calistra) on implementing the backend infrastructure for the app for cloud based data storage interaction, and also working with Dr. Kramps on arranging for patients to test the app.

LN: Where do you see yourself and Timeless five years from now?

EY: Five years from now, I would like to see Timeless being used by Alzheimer’s patients around the world. I equally hope that by then we will have found a way to cure Alzheimer’s disease and Timeless will pivot to be a tool that help those who are in transition stage between diagnosis and treatment.  Personally I would like to study computer science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning by the time I go to college in 5 years. I am also especially interested in the intersection between health care, biology and computer science and would eventually like to explore and potentially pursue a career in that area.

LN: What health or wellness technology do you hope exists by the time you retire?

EY: From observing the daily lives of my grandparents, I hope that there will be automated robotics or systems which can take care of the elderly’s daily life, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I noticed that getting customized, round the clock help for daily matters is the most challenging area where all elderly persons and their family routinely face.

LN: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

EY: As mentioned earlier, I’m in the process of taking Timeless from a prototype to a real application. I’m planning to raise fund for the development through crowdfunding in a few months. The funds will be used for design improvement, hosting of infrastructure (such as databases) for Timeless, marketing and ongoing maintenance of the app.

I recently created a Timeless Facebook page for the sharing of Alzheimer’s and Dementia related information and innovation, and updates on the development of the app.

It’ll be great if you and any of your readers can “like” the page and share it with your community.

An 8th grader, 13-year-old Emma is passionate about science, computer science, and technology innovation. In 2015, Emma won first place in the US and second place globally in Technovation Challenge, a global technology entrepreneurship competition for girls, out of 400 teams from more than 60 countries. Emma believes that technology can be used to help solve problems and make the world a better place. She is a strong advocate for STEM and would like to encourage all girls to explore their interests in science and technology. In 2016, Emma was named one of New York’s 10 Under 20 Young Innovators to Watch and Crain’s New York’s 20 Under 20 2016

Emma excels academically and is a Davidson Young Scholar, a member of Johns Hopkins University Julian C. Stanley Study of Exceptional Talent (SET), and Wolfram Research’s youngest and first ever middle school mentee of the Wolfram Mentorship Program. Emma was the youngest participant of the White House’s Opportunity Project, representing Wolfram Research in bringing the power of the Wolfram Language to solve problems using Open Data.

Emma  was awarded the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Space Camp Scholarship, Stony Brook International Piano Festival Scholarship, and the Michael Perelstein Memorial Discover Your Passion Scholarship for her outstanding achievement in Music and STEM. Most recently, Emma was selected as one of 500 exceptional students globally to participate in the Junior Academy of the New York Academy of Sciences solving the world’s greatest challenges. Emma is also a member of the school Robotics team who will be participating in the FIRST Robotics Competition.

An enthusiastic coder, Emma’s proficient in MIT AppInventor, HTML/CSS, Java and Swift. Her goal is to develop apps that help solve the world’s challenges. She is working on ConcussionChecker – an app to help detect concussion early and Timeless – an app to help Alzheimer patients live better lives. She plans to publish these apps on the App Store to benefit the community and beyond.

Emma is also a young classical pianist and she has performed at Carnegie Hall twice. Winner of Hong Kong Music Festival, American Protégé International Music Talent Competition, Rondo Young Artist Vanguard Competition, and Crescendo International Music Competition, Emma is an active participant in school and local music events.

Born in Hong Kong and lived there for ten years, Emma comes from a family with diverse background from China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Among her favorite foods are Chinese dumplings, Vietnamese Pho, Hainanese chicken rice, and lasagna. Fluent in English, Cantonese, Mandarin and learning German and French, Emma’s goal is to speak as many languages as possible. In her free time, Emma enjoys coding, reading, biking, and going to movies with Dad.

Emma is an introvert and enjoys being one. Recently, Emma started writing for Quiet Revolution‘s Quiet Diaries, a space for young voices to post their perspectives on life.

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