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Five-figure investment sees Iridis Digital launched to tackle dementia

A North East architectural firm has signed up to a joint venture with dementia research specialists at the University of Stirling to form a new company.

Space Architects is working with researchers on Iridis Digital Ltd, which brings together architecture, research and technology to improve the process of ageing.

New technology developed through the partnership aims to allow old people and those living with dementia to enjoy a higher quality of life for longer.

The venture has seen the creation of the Iridis Homeowner application aimed at assessing how ‘dementia friendly’ buildings are and where improvements can be made.

The app has so far been downloaded 3000 times from the App Store and Google Play.

Iridis formalises a partnership between Space Architects and University of Stirling’s Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) that has been years in the making.

The DSDC is a recognised leader in designing for dementia and Space has worked closely with its chief architect Lesley Palmer on the development of Iridis.

The Iridis app, backed by organisations including Age Scotland, is available for both 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.

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, leads the project.

He 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.”