The Eight Evenly Weighted Criteria

A project log for Dementia-friendly music player

Lovechild of MP3 & 1940s radio UI. For seniors with dementia who can no longer use CDs & iPods. Good project for kids.

Ross PorterRoss Porter 10/21/2017 at 04:200 Comments

There are eight evenly weighted criteria for this Final Round of the 2017 Hackaday Prize. How did the project do? Here is my biased evaluation. This is sort of like doing a self-evaluation at work. That is, it’s important to convey key information, be self-critical, but also a bit self-promotional :-).

1) How thoroughly have the final round requirements been completed?
I have built about a dozen working prototypes. Other makers have built ten units that I know of. I published a video that “sells” and demonstrates the device to a non-technical audience. I published 17 project logs. The build instructions are detailed, illustrated (photographs), and have been tested by non-technical makers. I also published a requirements document, a design document, and instructions for creating the software image (the mini distribution). There is a complete components list on both the Hackaday site and in the build instructions. These lists include links to the components. The build instructions have product links for both the US and the UK. The build has been shown to be reproducible by other makers. There is deliberately no custom hardware in the project, so there are no schematics, though there is a wiring diagram. This is deliberate – I want to keep the build accessible to as many makers as possible so devices get into the hands of people in need.

2) Does the project benefit society in some way?
Yes, it can specifically help those with mild dementia find joy in listening to their favorite music. Another benefit is that makers, including young makers, can find joy in helping their elders. There are approximately 47 million people worldwide with dementia. I was inspired by the documentary Alive Inside which shows that people with dementia can find profound joy from listening to their favorite music. The documentary covers the Music & Memory Foundation. There are now 3,000 care institutions that have Music & Memory programs. However, many people with dementia are no longer capable of using modern technology like iPods and CD players. Feedback so far suggests that people with mild dementia can generally use this dementia-friendly music player. Presumably because the old-timey two-knob approach depends on the old strong memories, not the often weaker memories of more recent decades. It certainly worked for my Dad.

3) How well documented is the project?
The build instructions are working for other makers (at least ten makers have done builds). The build instructions include 23 photographs / diagrams / screenshots of key steps. One veteran maker on YouTube described the build instructions as the most professional that he's seen in a long time. And for those that want to extend the project, I also published a requirements document, a design document, and instructions for creating the software image (mini distribution). All of this is in github of course. And there is a project site:

4) Is there base-level planning for the functionality (e.g. functional block diagram, list of specifications and how they will be met, etc.)?
Yes. See directly above.

5) Is there a depth of design detail available (like a system design, CAD models, project test methods, etc), and how well do they demonstrate the project impact and viability?
See above for discussion of depth of design detail and project impact. Regarding project viability, I believe in direct audience feedback. There are about 20 units in the world right now, and the feedback from dementia caregivers has been fairly positive – people with mild dementia can generally use the device and find joy in their favorite music. No reported reliability issues from caregivers or makers.

6) Is the project creative, original, functional, and pushing boundaries?
It is creative and original in the sense that I couldn’t find anything else like this (if I had, I would not have done the project). It’s fully functional, and working for other makers. Is it pushing boundaries? It does use a TMP_WRITE_PROTECTED micro-SD card. And it takes an unusual route to get great sound from the Pi’s built-in headphone jack. But other than that, it deliberately doesn’t push any boundaries – I wanted to easy enough for lots of people to build (including kids).

7) How “Open” is the design? Preference will be given to projects that exhibit depth of Open Hardware and Open Source Software.
It’s all open source of course. The code uses GNU General Public License, version 2. The laser cut wood case design uses Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

8) Is the project reproducible (consider materials, skills, and processes) and could the work be extended for other uses?
It’s definitely reproducible. I’ve watched seven people make the device so far, including a ten year old (with a little help from his Dad). I didn’t need to offer much help to any of them. It uses normal materials for a maker project e.g. a Raspberry Pi. No special tools or skills are required (no soldering, no woodworking), Can it be extended for other uses? I have started to see some people use it for seniors that don’t have dementia. One maker chose to make a music player that used my design on the inside, but used his own 3D printed case on the outside, which was cool to see. I’ll be interested to see where this goes. It would be awesome if someone made a cathedral-style radio case (the iconic radio style from the 1930s). And it would be great if someone kept the 1940s two-knob radio approach but connected it to Spotify or something else in the cloud. A rather nice person on Hackaday has also talked about integrating old-time radio content. For those that want to extend the project, I have, as noted above, published a requirements doc, a design doc, and a doc on how to create the software image.

And of course, I've had a lot of fun doing this. Thanks for the opportunity!

-- Ross