Memory & Technology
All text via: www.google.com/about Client: Google Year: 2017
Creative Directors: Greg Rutter and John Dwight Executive Producer: Sinead O’Mara
Google Street View is being used for more than just directions.
In 2007, Google sent out the first fleet of cars armed with cameras to map the world.
Who could have guessed that a decade later, a researcher would use Street View technology to help dementia patients remember.
But that’s exactly what biomechanical engineer Anne-Christine Hertz is doing.
Why not just look through an old photo album?
Our strongest memories are intensely tied to location. It’s no coincidence that when you think about any big memory or past event, your first thought is often “Where was I when that happened?” BikeAround taps into this idea, by combining mental stimulation from surrounding the patient with places they recognize, and physical stimulation from pedaling and steering. Scientists think this pairing produces dopamine in the brain and has the potential to affect memory management in a profound way.
Technology and the power of memory
Anne-Christine was trying to develop new methods to treat Alzheimer’s patients and those suffering from dementia. Specifically, she wanted to help them preserve old memories. Memory loss is one of the most traumatic side effects of dementia, both for patients and their loved ones.
To combat this, she built a prototype called BikeAround, which pairs a stationary bike with Google Street View to take dementia patients on a virtual ride down memory lane. Patients input a street address of a place that means something to them - a childhood home for instance - and then use the pedals and handlebars to “bike around” their old neighborhoods.
The road ahead
Anne-Christine’s BikeAround invention is an inspiring example of what happens when you make technology available for everyone. The device is now undergoing further scientific study with the goal to bring it to facilities around the globe and improve the lives of dementia patients, one bike ride at a time.
I shot this photo essay for Google in Sweden during the summer of 2017. I used a Hasselblad 503c and Fujifilm PRO 400H.
The decision to photograph this particular project on film was an easy one due to the medium’s visual nod to nostalgia. I’ve found that medium format cameras are a great way to spark a relationship when making portraits in a documentary setting. Every subject is eager to look through the waist level viewfinder and excited when they hear the shutter snap.
This was not my first time working with a language barrier but I was surprised that everyone quickly recognized the phonetics of the “Hasselblad” logo situated above the lens. A word that we both knew. A small detail on the camera that always allowed a laugh and connection before dissipating into a comfortable shooting environment.
While Google regularly creates or works with the latest technology and hardware, it was fun to shoot this for them on a camera that works without a battery.