The ’Simple Music Player’ has been designed to be as easy as possible to operate for the end user; that is, the person with dementia. Setting up the player is undertaken by friends, family or carers, as a one-time process. Extensive trialling has verified that the operation is highly intuitive and does not require any prior knowledge or memory to start and stop the player. The styling is also reminiscent of old radios and is instantly recognisable as something which plays music.
To operate, there are only three controls:
- Start playing music – just lift the lid
- Skip this song – (optional) press the big button
- Stop the music – close the lid
The music will always continue from where it was last stopped.
The beneficial effects of music for people with dementia are quite outstanding; both for improving the quality of life, especially when living alone, and for its healthy restorative effects on cognizance and lucidity. A recurring problem, however, has been the difficulties people with dementia face when trying to operate modern music-playing equipment. Remembering how controls operate or manipulation of knobs, non-tactile buttons, and an array of confusing symbols all limit access to this well proved benefit.
Setting up the Simple Music Player
Setting up is undertaken by friends, family, or carers. There are two essential operations: Setting the volume and uploading the playlist. To upload a playlist the Simple Music Player is plugged into a computer. The process is well described in operating instructions making ‘set-up’ as easy as possible.
The volume control is designed to avoid being accidentally changed by the user. This could lead to the music being far too loud and disturbing, or too quiet so it may appear to be ’broken’ if hard of hearing or confused.
To adjust the volume, using a pencil or similar, press and hold one of the buttons underneath the player. You don’t need to press too hard; you should feel a gentle click like on a keyboard or doorbell. Only after holding the control for 5 seconds, the volume will begin to increase or decrease, so it can be set to the appropriate level.
’Simple Music Player is an MP3 player which comes in three versions: Red, Green and Burr-Walnut. They are functionally identical so they all operate in the same way. The intention is for the player to be installed and left powered on, allowing the user to operate it at will without any other requirement than to lift or lower the lid to start or stop the music.
The only other control available to the regular user is a large button that skips onto the next tune when pressed.
Their construction is highly durable consisting of a strong wooden enclosure with a high-strength plastic covering. The loudspeaker grille is cloth finished but reinforced with a steel mesh to avoid any damage to the speaker. Rubber feet ensure that the player does not slip. It can be wiped down with a damp cloth if required.
The player has been designed with the minimum of controls and has been extensively tested as well as trialled by the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering (now ’Designability’).
On the back panel, there are additional facilities for particular personal requirements. If headphones are required, then the green socket accepts a stereo jack plug. (Note: headphones can be extremely loud and cause hearing damage)
For people with dexterity problems rather than dementia-related conditions the ’ON/OFF’ control and ’NEXT TUNE’ buttons can be over-ridden by means of remote switches plugged into the two available sockets (note: the lid has to be closed for these controls to work).
Specifications – Technical
- Dimensions: 300mm x 190mm x 110mm
- Weight: 4kg
- Colour: Available in Red, Green, and Burr-Walnut effect
- Memory capacity: 4GB minimum (about 1500 – 2000 songs)
- Music upload: via USB connection (cable provided) compatible with Microsoft Windows, Apple ios and Linux
- Music format: MP3 file types only. They will not support MPEG4, WMA, WAV, AAC files.
- User controls: ON/OFF and NEXT TRACK
- Presetable controls: Volume control on the base of device
- Ancillary controls: User controls can be mimicked using remote switches via the back panel
- Headphone socket: Yes
- Power requirements: Local mains supply – factory configured to Australian Standards
- Power consumption: less than 700mA at 9V
- Amplifier: 6W Class D mono audio amplifier
- Speaker: 4ohm 90mm diameter high-quality circular cone
- Cleaning: Wipe down with a damp cloth (not waterproof)