Conscious Metrics was started in November 2019 when I unexpectedly became the caregiver for Clark, one of my best friends from childhood. We are nearly the same age, have similar interests in music and math – and yet the form of early-onset dementia Clark experiences produces severe amnesia of memories past and present.

The circumstances were less than ideal: the hospital called to explain that, as ‘activated health proxy’ it was my responsibility to establish long-term care… I discussed with my wife if we should take him home? The short answer: yes.

As empty-nesters (pre-covid) – this seemed a reasonable way to provide Clark with a stable place to live while his medical team attempted to diagnose his condition. Clark’s form of dementia is an autoimmune-based traumatic brain injury, along with non-progressing dementia and amnesia… in other words – this was going to be a serious challenge.

Professionally I had recently changed focus to Program and Project Management, passed the PMP exam and received my certificate – and intended to take some time off to document best practices in product development based on previous work. The end goal was (and continues to be) an ‘open science’ project to improve tools and techniques; with examples and open discussions to iterate on ideas…

My project, named bespoke agile,  was put on hold as my wife and I (and now several college-age kids home from school due to covid) learned how to support someone who simply forgets about covid-driven protocols, and who sometimes does not know where he is, and why he is living with us.

Being a process-focused person – I noticed that the most progress made with Clark took place during periods of greater lucidity; when a set of memories was in place that was more coherent with the rest of the world. Contrary to my expectations, assessing Clark’s ‘level of consciousness’ and lucidity was far more challenging that we expected.

Greater challenges are greater gifts.. and in this case – I decided to science it out, hoping my experiences in music, technology, 3d imaging, Machine Learning, and raising three very different children might be relevant… Machine Learning is now accessible on my machines and in the cloud, and so the next step was to identify metrics and tools to build data sets:

  • Vocal analysis, both spoken and singing
  • Guitar technique (and soon other instruments)
  • Electric guitar signal processing
  • Facial expressions
The tools currently in use are:
  • Mathematica software for analysis
  • Fishman tripleplay guitar to midi converter
  • Townsend Labs Sphere L2 microphone
  • Rokoko face capture
  • Rokoko smart gloves (arriving soon)
  • Most of the tools I use in my studio: Presonus Studiolive 32sc + NSB 8:8, various monitors, cameras, computers, etc.
This is a work in progress, and so far the results are promising. However – it is simply true that working with individuals with dementia and TBI can be a slow process. Given the rate of data acquisition and processing, we expect an update during the summer of 2021.

 I’d like to thank everyone, from family to wonderful companies such as Wolfram Research for their kind help. I will be publishing descriptions of the tools, signal processing, networks, and analysis this year as well.
Conscious Metrics is in a stable state, and I am returning to full time work in Program and Project Management. Bespoke Agile describes my approach to process engineering (and re-engineering) focused on how to enable people  to spend more time in their day-to-day life on the parts of their job they love.
Nicholas Salzman |
Cambridge MA | January 8th, 2021