10 million moments of happiness each day in the care ecosystem

Portret Mathijs Konings

Tover product developer and CTO Mathijs Konings is convinced that care innovations can help increase personal contact and create moments of happiness in the care sector. “Someone may grab your hand or start dancing. That’s the effect the Tovertafel has on people.”

In 2015, Mathijs, Head of Product Development and CTO at Tover, Sjoerd Wennekes and industrial designer Hester Le Riche launched the Tovertafel: interactive games that bring moments of happiness to people with cognitive challenges by stimulating social interaction and physical movement.

“Hester had begun her PhD research at TU Delft and wanted to develop a product that breaks through apathy in people with dementia,” says Mathijs. “We were linked to each other through the interdisciplinary project CRISP and we started to explore how to use serious games to bring about behavioural change in people with dementia. We spent days in care homes for the elderly. This allowed us to experience first-hand how dementia affects a person’s life. We wanted to make a difference by developing a product that not only increases their quality of life, but also that of the people around them.

Co-design: developing together with the target group

Mathijs and his team at Tover develop the Tovertafel games according to the co-design method, a process in which designers and non-designers work closely together. “We meet the players during the game tests. When we start playing, all differences melt away. We talk about memories and make jokes. Someone may grab your hand or start dancing. That’s the effect the Tovertafel has on people.”

“The reactions of family members or carers have had the profoundest effect on me. I’ve seen people’s eyes well up with tears when seeing residents with dementia break through their apathy by playing with the Tovertafel or children with autism being able to play with other children. That really moved me. We’re doing something groundbreaking. Something that is really necessary. There’s nothing more valuable than these moments of happiness.”

10 million moments of happiness

Tover has a mission and wants to create 10 million moments of happiness each day in the care ecosystem in 2025. Mathijs: “We see a great need, which is why we launched the Power of Innovation campaign. This campaign aims to create a community of tech companies, care institutions, education and others who acknowledge the importance of technology for the care sector. Together, we are committed to making the sector even better, more beautiful and more enjoyable.” The campaign was launched on Monday, 21 January 2019 during the 2019 ehealth week, with a special photo exhibition, which was festively unveiled by Secretary General Erik Gerritsen of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.

Opening expositie

Making a positive difference

And what is the role of the product developers? “Care technologies give people more control over their lives, which opens up possibilities for human contact. Or moments of happiness, no matter how big or small. Developers should not focus on the largest group,” Mathijs points out, “everyone is already doing that. “Get out of your bubble, confront yourself with the world. You’re bound to find something that resonates with you. You can make a difference in the world and at the same time have a successful business.”