Tim Henkelmann
Supervisor:Prof. Gudrun Klinker
Advisor:Christian Eichhorn
Submission Date:15.05.2019


The number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is rising from year to year. With the ongoing demographic change in western countries and no cure in sight, this problem will only increase in relevance. The illness puts a tough toll on caregivers, patients and their friends and family. Due to impairment of the short term memory and a decreased thirst, the affected persons forget to drink which in turn affects their overall health. The course of the disease can be slowed down if they are mentally and physically challenged and at the same time socially integrated. To keep up the quality of life of the patients for as long as possible, efforts need to be made.

Therefore, a virtual version of the board game classic "Ludo" was developed that is specifically adjusted for users suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Combining physical pieces with virtual computing functionality creates a captivating gaming experience that aims to increase socialization and hydration as well as challenge the patients cognitively and physically. The application was evaluated in a retirement home to identify not only the benefits and shortcomings of the game but also particularities when developing for Alzheimer’s patients.

Project Description:

To increase socialization and hydration as well as challenge Alzheimer's patients cognitively and physically, a hybrid tabletop version of the board game "Ludo" ("Mensch Ärgere Dich Nicht") was developed on a tablet. Combining physical pieces with virtual funcitonality is aimed to spark interest in the users and create familarity to the classic version of the game. The dice contains an Arduino that makes use of the integrated accelerometer and gyroscope to track, when the dice is thrown. It will then transmit the dice result to the tablet via Bluetooth. The physical pieces are covered in conductive paint (black) or tin-foil (grey) and can therefore be tracked by the touch display.


Multiple features (large fonts + hitboxes, reset-button, 3 board sizes, physical + virtual pieces, path marking, ...) were integrated to account for sensory and motor deficiencies that are characteristic for Alzheimer's patients. In addition to these impairments, the short term memory is defective. The helper panels in front of each player therefore display, who's turn it is and what needs to be done. This is supported by the companion dog that will display help messages at every stage of the game. Furthermore, an image-cropper feature was implented that allows to pin the faces of the patients to their playing pieces and hence create a stronger connection. 


The application was evaluated in a retirement home in Munich with a total of 8 Alzheimer's patients to test the app in a real-world scenario. After the first evaluation, feedback was collected and the software was improved. Finally, a second evaluation was conducted to obtain further feedback and test the newly implemented functionality. In addition to the collected feedback, the application was assessed with the Technology Acceptance Model.


The evaluation of the developed application and the collected feedback showed that the application was perceived as a good alternative to the classic Ludo board game. Especially the results of the second evaluation looked very promising. Depending on the state of the Alzheimer's patients, it can, however, only be used in an supportive way due to the cognitive impairment and short term memory deficits. Future research will have to examine whether the application could prove useful for non-impaired elderly users and if it fulfills the desired benefits in the long run.

Master's Thesis: 

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