Active Cues

The Case – Summary

Active Cues is the result of a PhD research program started by Hester Anderiesen in 2010, at both the Delft University of Technology and VU University Amsterdam. We joined the project right from the beginning for the full four years, making this our longest running project ever. We started as gameplay consultants, but eventually became full development partners.

Active Cues is an interactive installation with games for dementia patients. We had the unique opportunity to design and test every aspect together with patients and professional caretakers. This resulted in an installation with games that are highly appreciated by the players and the staff.

As of February 2015, Active Cues has grown into its own stand-alone company. This company will bring Active Cues as a product to the market and will also set up new studies for different patient groups.

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The Case – Full Story

Scientific Research
Active Cues is by far the biggest project we had ever done. Not only in terms of lead-time, because that was over four years! But also in team size and amount of stakeholders.
Our client wasn’t a traditional client, but a large European conglomerate called CRISP – Creative Industry Scientific Programme. One of the many projects initiated by this conglomerate was: G-MOTIV. Designing Motivation: Changing Human Behaviour Using Game-Elements.
The project was the PhD research study for Hester Anderiesen, at both the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering (Delft University of Technology) and the department of Clinical Neuropsychology (VU Amsterdam).

The subject of Hester’s research was: how can games and game technologies be used to activate dementia patients again. As 90% of dementia patients suffer from apathy, they are not very active physically during the course of the day. This is a very worrying factor, because the negative effects that apathy has on the patients’ physical, mental and emotional well-being are rather alarming. Their muscles and joints stiffen, their boredom can cause depression and their cognitive abilities start to diminish. The design goal of Active Cues is to reduce this apathy by stimulating physical activity and social interaction by using a playful concept design.

Large Team
The entire team for this project was quite big; see “The Team” for a full list. We started out as a consultant of gameplay design. But slowly we grew into a full development partner. One the best aspects of this project was the enormous amount of time for research and development. Combined with the fact that we created most games together with dementia patients and professional caretakers, contributed to the high quality of Active Cues. The games in Active Cues are effective in their simplicity. The games are played at the same dinner table the patients always sit. There we project small objects on the table, for example some flowers. When they touch one of these projected flowers, it will start to grow and rotate. Another projecting is that of a beach ball, which they can bounce around the table. There are also typical Dutch sayings that they have to finish and many more. As a result, we saw that the players became more active and even encouraged each other to join the fun.

Commercial Product
At the beginning of the project in 2010, our role was that of gameplay consultant. After various months of intents brainstorming and testing, we also build the first physical prototype of Active Cues. This was an installation that we could intergrade in a nursery home, where we could test it with both the patients and staff. A few iterations later, after being praised by the patients and their family but also the caretakers and even the supervisor at Delft University of Technology, we decided together with Hester to turn this prototype into a real product and bring it to the market. We joined forces with Springlab and as of February 2015, the company Active Cues is a fact.

The Team

We worked together with the following professionals during the PhD program:
CRISP / G-Motive – Client
Hester Anderiesen – PhD Candidate and project leader.
Monobanda Play – Gameplay design and testing
Rajiv Krijnen – Lead programmer
Delft University of Technology – Lead support
Careyn – Nursery home where we tested
Art2B2 – Prototype construction
Novay (is now called InnoValor) – Data analysing
VU Amsterdam – Support
WoonzorgUnie Veluwe – Support
Humanitas – Support R.H.M. Goossens (Richard) – Supervision
Prof. dr. E. Scherder (Erik) – Supervision
Dr. ir. M.H. Sonneveld (Marieke) – Supervision

We worked together with the following professionals to turn Active Cues into a company:
Hester Anderiesen – Project leader
Springlab – Business development
Rajiv Interactive – Lead programmer
Edutel – Hardware support
Teun van Dingenen – Additional programming
NISB – Support

Official Website
Official Facebook Page


Keynote from Hester Anderiesen at South African congress
Exposed at the Taiwan Design Museum

New Venture award – Winner (website in Dutch only)
Interview on Dutch radio
Interview with Hester (website in Dutch only)