Memo-Pen: A Technological Memory Aid Designed For The Elderly

Yae Kubota (UX Designer, UX Researcher), Ethan Husted (UX Designer, UX Researcher), and Ishita Saxena (UX Designer, UX Researcher)

The Problem

It is no question that everyone deals with the issue of forgetting things. Everyone has some way to keep up with their schedule and their to-do’s. However the elderly, specifically people over the age of 64, are rarely the intended audience for technology. As a result, we decided to explore different ideas about how we can help this group of people attack the issue of forgetfulness with a memory aid tailored to their usability. Our initial research showed that while people over the age of 64 were excited about technology, they feel that they generally don’t have the information or support to utilize most existing technology. Our solution to this proposed problem provides a way to use technology to make improvements to how people currently make reminders for themselves, while keeping in mind that we are designing for the elderly.

The Solution

Figure 1: App Icon for Memo-Pen

To help create a better system for the elderly to create reminders and keep track of them, our team developed Memo-Pen, a smart pen paired with an app interface. Using the smart pen, users can write down notes or reminders on paper, and the technology in the pen will intuitively interpret what was written down. From there, the Memo-Pen app will create reminders, so users can easily access all their reminders from their phone. By using Memo-Pen, users can continue making reminders for themselves by writing things down, while ensuring that none of the reminders will be lost or forgotten because they are all easily accessible on your phone. With the help of Memo-Pen, users no longer have to spend time scrambling to find their misplaced notes, and can easily remember to accomplish all the tasks that need to get done.

Paper Prototype, Testing Process, and Results:

Figure 2: Paper Prototype for Creating a Reminder Task
Figure 3: Paper Prototype for Receiving a Reminder Task

Our paper prototype tests the two main functionalities of our solution which include creating a reminder (Figure 2) and receiving a reminder notification (Figure 3). The paper prototype represents the flow of screens that users would see on their phone, through the different interactions as they use the Memo-Pen app, allowing users to understand the main interactions that they can perform using Memo-Pen. Using the paper prototype, we conducted a heuristic evaluation with another group to receive critique and suggestions on how to improve. In addition, we also performed usability testing on a different group from class, as well family members. We chose to perform our usability tests on these two distinct demographics because the tests conducted on family gave us insights on how our target audience would interact with Memo-Pen, while the group from class helped us understand broadly how other demographics would use Memo-Pen. For both the heuristic evaluation and the usability testing, we first started off giving our participants context about the problem and how Memo-Pen worked to solve that problem. Then, we displayed the screens from our paper prototype for our participants to interact with to complete our two main tasks: Create a New Reminder and Receive a Reminder Notification.

From our heuristic evaluation, one of the most salient pieces of feedback we received was to add back buttons in our app to easily navigate to a previous page, as well as adding a confirmation pop up for when the user clicks on the delete button to ensure that is the action the user wanted to perform. Another piece of feedback we got from multiple groups was to add an option for users to see their events in a daily, weekly or monthly view, so users have the option to see their upcoming events in the view that they prefer. Some other important feedback that we received was about adding the option to create recurring reminders to improve functionality. In addition, we added the option for the pen to have a button to open the app, as well as a recording button. Lastly, we got feedback that it would be beneficial if users could edit their reminders through the pen, since our target group prefers to use paper and pen.

Digital Mockup

Our main solution is actually a design for a pen, for which we have created a custom 3D model for. This was to facilitate the comfort and familiarity with which our target user group has with pen and paper solutions.

Figure 4: Smart Pen

The two main functionalities of our system are creating an event, and receiving a reminder for an event the user had previously created. These are single pop up notifications on a user’s device (phone, tablet, etc). The pop up notification for creating an event (1) happens immediately after information has been recorded while writing with the pen and the recording functionality is turned on. If the recording functionality is not on, it functions like a normal pen. The pop up notification for a reminder (2) happens at a scheduled time determined by the user when creating or modifying an event. From the reminder pop up, a user can simply dismiss the reminder, or can navigate to the event to view notes, add reminders, etc.

Interactive prototype


We identified in our user research that while individuals over the age of 64 rely on memory aids just as much if not more than younger people, they tend to prefer writing down their notes with pen and paper as opposed to other methods. Although they are generally content with pen and paper, they sometimes find themselves losing track of their notes. With Memo-Pen, the user can continue writing their notes on paper while the pen tracks what is written and creates reminders in the Memo-Pen app. This provides the user with a sense of security that they will still be reminded about important events if they lose their notes, while also allowing them to create reminders in a familiar and comfortable way. The convenience of Memo-Pen can improve users’ lives by giving them important reminders when they need them and reducing the stress caused by worrying about losing track of their notes.



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CSE 440 Staff

University of Washington Computer Science, Intro to Human Computer Interaction