Thesis turned into a smartwatch app for children with ADHD

Tiimo is a smartwatch app that creates structure in the daily life of children with ADHD. The two developers have just launched a beta version of the app in Google Play.

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No child likes being told to go and brush their teeth in the middle of a video game, but for children with ADHD, such abrupt changes can be overwhelming and cause anxiety, both at home and at school.

Tiimo, a newly launched app, can prevent some of the everyday conflicts by being a kind of 'friend on the wrist' that guides the child through the day and counts down to the next activity. The app is installed on a smartwatch, preventing it from being forgotten in the school bag or classroom, as opposed to the analogue aids used today.

Makes children more independent
The two former ITU students Helene Lassen Nørlem and Melissa Azari came up with the idea for tiimo while writing their thesis in Digital Design and Communication. They aimed to design a digital solution that makes life easier for children with ADHD. The two developers were determined that their product should not make kids feel different. This was one the reasons for choosing the smartwatch as a platform.

"The smartwatch is a good platform because it accompanies the child throughout the day and gives a quick overview of the day's programme. The visual countdown helps the children understand how much time is left of the current activity, and when it is time to do something else. This makes the child more independent, because it means they don’t always have to ask an adult," says Helene Lassen Nørlem.

The rest of the family can also benefit from tiimo, says Melissa Azari.

"When you have a child with ADHD, you often end up scolding the child. When tiimo is there to give the child reminders, it releases some time and creates peace in the family. One of the families we have tested tiimo in said they now have a happier daughter and a more harmonious family. So one thing is to help the child, but when the whole family feels a difference, that’s really cool. "

From thesis to prototype
After submitting the thesis in September 2014, Helene and Melissa had a concept that was too good to leave in the drawer. The families they had worked with urged them to proceed with tiimo.

"When we presented our concept to the families, many of them were quite hooked on using our solution, so we almost had to keep going," says Helene.

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There are many groups, like people with brain damage or dementia, that could benefit from having something on the body that reminds them of things. Once the operating system is in place, the product only needs to be adapted to the specific target group.

Helene Lassen Nørlem, co-founder of tiimo
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So despite the fact that both had full-time jobs, they started meeting to develop tiimo in the evenings. They joined a mentor program with ITU Business Development, who helped with funding applications, and a 10-week start-up programme at Thinkubator lead to the creation of a prototype. 

Since then, things have developed rapidly - at the beginning of 2016, tiimo received almost two million from the Market Development Fund for testing and developing. Today, both are working full time on tiimo, and the company employs two developers.

Potential for other target groups
When both platform and business model are fully developed, the two entrepreneurs would like to expand their concept. The motivation is to help as many as possible using technology.

"There are many groups, like people with brain damage or dementia, that could benefit from having something on the body that reminds them of things. Once the operating system is in place, the product only needs to be adapted to the specific target group. Overall, it is about making people with different diagnoses more independent," says Helene.

The next challenge will be to make the platform more intelligent, for example by using the GPS to remind the user to bring their keys when leaving the house.

"A lot is going to happen in the next six months. Hopefully, we'll get a lot of users and some more capital that can take us further. That’s the plan," Helene finishes.

Further information

Vibeke Arildsen, Press Officer, phone 2555 0447, email viar@itu.dk