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Loving Grandson Invents Device to Transform Dementia Care

Hemesh Chadalavada, 17, has created a device that detects when people with Alzheimer’s fall or stray, which goes beyond the reach of the devices currently available.

Indian teenager Hemesh Chadalavada
Hemesh Chadalavada | Handout

Chadalavada spent many happy times with his loving and much-loved grandmother, Jayasree. She was once a dynamic, successful woman, who had a high-profile career as a civil servant, interacting with top politicians and policymakers in the state of Telangana. But Alzheimer’s disease struck and altered her completely.

During one happy summer at the start of the 2020s, Chadalavada, a self-confessed geek from Hyderabad who loved robotics, decided he wanted to invent a gadget to help people like his grandmother.

To understand the needs of people with Alzheimer’s (of which India has an estimated 8.8 million), he spent time in a day centre run by the Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India. He then spent hours watching robotics tutorials on YouTube.

In 2022 he beat 18,000 entries to win a 10m rupee ($127,000) grant from the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest and was assigned some of Samsung’s top engineers as mentors.

Hemesh Chadalavada at the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest
Hemesh Chadalavada at the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest | Handout

Now aged 17, Chadalavada is about to commence manufacturing his readily affordable detection device, which goes beyond the reach of all other devices currently available. The light and compact Alpha Monitor, which can be worn as a badge or an armband, sets off an alarm when the wearer starts to move and alerts a caregiver if the patient falls or wanders off.

Most similar devices run on wifi or Bluetooth, so when a person moves out of their somewhat limited range the connection is lost and with it, of course, the tracking ability. But the Alpha Monitor can detect a person more than a mile away in cities and three miles (5km) in the countryside thanks to the long-range technology, known as LoRa, it uses.

Better yet, the monitor also measures pulse and temperature, and reminds people when to take medication. But Chadalavada is working on going even further with his invention, to predict a patient’s movement patterns, using machine-learning technology.

Chadalavada hopes to study robotics at a university abroad. His aim is simple: “I want to create products to help people in India for the whole world.”


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