Samsung App Aims to Help 3 Million Aphasia Patients Worldwide Communicate Again
Samsung Electronics Italy and Leo Burnett Italy present Samsung Wemogee, the first free instant messaging app created to allow patients with aphasia and everyone with communication disorders, to express ideas, activities and emotions with their family and friends. This new app will be available from the 28th of April 2017 on Google Play Store for all the Android devices (smartphones and tablets), the AppStore for iOS devices and on Galaxy Apps by Samsung.
Samsung Wemogee covers a communication problem that troubles more than 3 million people in the World (200.000 in Italy alone) who suffer from Aphasia, a very complex neurological disorder that affects the ability to understand and formulate language. It is an acquired disorder caused by damage to the Broca or Wernicke Area, the parts of the brain responsible for the production, comprehension and expression of speech. The most common causes are traumatic, hemorrhagic or ischemic (up to 30% of people who have suffered a stroke develop a form of aphasia). This disorder has serious consequences on the life of the patient and of the people close to him/her. As language is the most important instrument for communication, aphasia can result in the loss of friends and cause extreme frustration, from an emotional point of view.
Elio Clemente Agostoni, Director of the Neuroscience Department of the Niguarda Hospital in Milan, who followed the scientific development of Samsung Wemogee, confirms: "In the traditional treatment of language disorders, images and gestures play a key role because they go beyond the verbal barrier. In this regard, Samsung Wemogee is a truly new communication code. The inclusion of suggested answers, linked to certain questions, is a simple interaction model, which facilitates the use by the aphasic patient, limiting his choice and therefore the possibility of making errors."
With a simple and intuitive interface, Samsung Wemogee works as a sort of translator from text into emojis and vice versa. The app vocabulary, developed in collaboration with Francesca Polini, speech therapist and professor at the Università degli Studi in Milan, includes a library of more than 140 sentences related to the user’s primary needs. There are also sentences related to emotions, predictably more useful for aphasic patients. These sentences have been translated into logical sequences of emojis and divided into 6 macro categories (daily life; eating and drinking; feelings; help; recreational activities, anniversaries and celebrations); aphasic users will be able to choose what they want to communicate from a panel of visual options, sending the sequence of selected emojis to a non-aphasic user. The non-aphasic user will receive the message in text form and will be able to answer with written words. At the same time, the aphasic patient will receive the message translated into emojis. "The aphasic patients understand emojis because they represent all aspects of the emotions. Through drawings and gestures we can preserve the comprehension and the production of a sentence. To get this result it is useful to have a definite set of sentences, that refer to the most important needs, making it easier for the patient to use and for the app to facilitate conversation and avoid the patient becoming frustrated,” adds Francesca Polini.
Doctor Giuseppe J. Sciarrone, Neurosurgeon Consultant at the Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital in Milan, whose consultation contributed to the development of Samsung Wemogee, confirms that "The aphasic patient is deprived of a whole range of tools that not only affect their ability to express everyday needs but also their emotions. This naturally causes a feeling of frustration and helplessness in people who are around him, which makes the patient retreat into himself more and more. Samsung Wemogee is an extremely innovative app because, through a simple and intuitive interface, it allows the aphasic patient not to excessively stimulate the ideative connections of his brain, at the same time giving the aphasic user the possibility of interacting easily with the people around him”.
Samsung Wemogee is not only an instant messaging app. It can also be used as a training instrument in concomitance situations, and support traditional rehabilitation methodologies, thanks to the display function that shows a sentence in both text and emoji at the same time and on the same device.
“We strongly believed in the Samsung Wemogee project right from the first stages of development. The approval from our scientific partners on the efficiency of the app for all aphasic sufferers, strengthened our certainty of its true social value. With this project, we confirm our stance for putting all our technological know-how to serve society, because Social Responsibility is one of Samsung’s pillars, both in Italy and in the World. We are conscious of how much technology can be a powerful instrument of emancipation and social inclusion”, says Mario Levratto, head of marketing & external relations at Samsung Electronics Italy.
“Samsung Wemogee is a project that opens a new chapter in the relationship between an advertising agency and a client. We got involved both professionally and emotionally. We have the feeling of having created something really big.” says Francesco Bozza, Executive Creative Director of Leo Burnett Italy.