Notable Board Books

How alert and happy my mother (with Alzheimer's) became when she heard familiar songs! Lift the book, turn the page--the book does the rest.

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Music benefits people. From toddlers to seniors, music enhances moods, promotes health, and stimulates memory. Recently I shared a children’s musical board book with my mother who has Alzheimer’s. I was amazed at how alert and happy she became when she heard the familiar songs. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Mom could have her own book with age appropriate music?
My husband Mike and I (Annelle) are creating Notable Board Books. Notable Board Books are customizable, interactive books containing personalized music and pictures. To encourage sing-alongs, Notable Board Books include an audible track with instrumental and vocal music.

We are trying to eliminate all buttons and switches. The book will go into "ready" mode when picked up and will play the page that is selected by the user.

Here's a video of a functional prototype.

Here are a few things learned thus far:

1) The 8 ohm speaker needs to face the reader for maximum volume and clarity.

2) The speaker housing should not interfere with turning the pages. 

3) Depth of the speaker will determine the depth of the housing available for electronics.

This means that speaker selection (maximum quality and volume with minimal size) will drive the enclosure construction.

Instead of buttons to select a song, photo resistors will indicate which page is being examined.

A tilt switch array can be used to sense that the book has been picked up.

An array of mechanical tilt switches will be used to put the book into "ready" mode.

Here's an overview of the project.

We are using an Adafruit Sound Board to store and replay the audio bits.  The board is very small and it can handle multiple audio files. Separate pins can be activated to play individual files (up to eleven).

Technical challenges involve creating an electronics enclosure and making photos/text adhere to the board material.

To create finished books that are reproducible, it will be necessary to find songs and produce audio tracks that are royalty free--so that's an intellectual property challenge.


Functional prototype

ino - 2.33 kB - 08/15/2018 at 21:04


f3d - 46.45 kB - 08/13/2018 at 19:17


f3d - 58.17 kB - 08/13/2018 at 19:17


Standard Tesselated Geometry - 44.81 kB - 08/13/2018 at 19:17


Standard Tesselated Geometry - 15.12 kB - 08/13/2018 at 19:17


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  • Functional Prototype

    Annelle Rigsby8 hours ago 0 comments

    Here's what it works like:

    I started by soldering wire wrap wire to the photo resistors, then shrink wrapping the ends to prevent shorting.

    Then I inserted a photo resistor into the hole in the last page of the book.

    Metal duct tape was used to secure the photo resistor in place (the sticky side of the tape does not conduct).

    This was repeated for the five active holes.

    It looks like this from the front side.

    Using the schematic, the Arduino was connected to the Adafruit sound board.

    The relay and more Arduino connections are made.

    Wires from the photo resistors (the board book) are attached.

    Using some sticky putty, the board book was attached to the case (I didn't want things too firmly attached until I have tested the book more completely).

    The Arduino sketch for this is included in the files on this site.

  • Container

    Annelle Rigsby2 days ago 0 comments

    Now we start the process of combining the speaker, electronics and book. Here are the speaker, retainers and speaker enclosure.

    The speaker is mounted using 3mm x 8mm screws.

    Next, gather the tilt switch and backplate.

    Fasten the tilt switch array to the backplate using a 3mm x 8mm screw.

    The tilt switch array is now ready to combine with the speaker housing.

    Screwed together, they look like this.

    Gather the battery cover and speaker assembly.

    Assembled, they look like this.

    The "behind the book" housing is made from two pieces that are glued or melted together.

    Now, the speaker assembly, electronics holder and book are coming together.

    The speaker enclosure sits too high and prohibits easy access to the lower pages. The electronics housing will need to be raised to correct this.

  • Power Lock On

    Annelle Rigsby07/31/2018 at 13:03 0 comments

    Although the tilt switches can be used to indicate that the book has been picked up or set down, intermediate "holding the book flat" can result in power loss. By placing a relay contact parallel with the tilt contacts, the Arduino can hold power on for a couple of minutes (or until finished playing a song). 

  • Pick Up the Book Detection

    Annelle Rigsby07/27/2018 at 13:42 0 comments

    Four roller ball switches and a 3d printed housing (file available here) can be used to "know" that the book has been picked up.

    The housing provides a slight downward tilt so that the roller ball switches are all reset when the book is resting on a flat surface. The short wire (brass color) should face outward--when the switch is tilted toward the brass wire end, electrical connection is made.

    I use wire wrap wire to connect switches together. The four switches are wired in parallel.

  • Page Selection

    Annelle Rigsby07/26/2018 at 18:09 0 comments

    Automatic page selection (our target audience may not be able to operate buttons and switches) is accomplished by reading the resistance of photoresistors.

    At this stage, the output goes to light emitting diodes. In the final version, songs will be played.

    Holes are drilled in the board book and corresponding photo resistors are lined up in the back of the book.

    When light strikes a photo resistor, the Arduino "knows" that page is active. 

    The "deepest page in" is the one that should be activated.

    The electronics have to be minimized in size and tied to the music playback system. The "Turn it on when picked up" system also has to be installed.

  • Page Detection and Turn on/off Concept

    Annelle Rigsby07/23/2018 at 18:29 0 comments

    By placing holes in the pages that correspond to photo resistor locations, a processor can tell which page is open.

    As more pages are opened, more photo resistors detect light. The "deepest" active page is the one that will be played.

    Four roller ball tilt switches, placed in a 3d printed enclosure, will be "off" when the book is lying on a table. In any other position, they will be "on."

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nittygritty74141 wrote 08/03/2018 at 19:39 point

Hello Annette and Mike, I was impressed about the idea you had with your Mom to make her smile, seeing and hearing familiar things. I think, it is easily possible to add a MP3-Player board (or similar) that is playing the songs (or whatever) behind the text and the pictures. I had some similar projects some time ago - if you like, I will send you the hardware and software items, that can be simply adapted to the hardware you alread setup.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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