World Alzheimer’s Day – a project helping dementia/Alzheimer’s sufferers explore their memories, prototyped using the Raspberry Pi

21st September is World Alzheimer’s Day. A few years ago, my Nan passed away. By the end, she didn’t recognise anybody and couldn’t communicate. It is not an illness or a condition I would wish on anyone.

Back in 2010, Chloe Meineck began creating the first Music Memory Box. The idea of the box was to give dementia suffers a experience of memory through the use of music. Over the next few years, Chloe developed the idea and came across the Raspberry Pi and RFID tags. Bringing these ideas together, she then developed a prototype with the Pi.

The box lid is filled with a photo collage and then other objects (with RFID tags attached) are added. These objects, when placed on the central RFID reader then trigger the Pi to play a relevant audio clip (stored on a USB stick) that matches a photograph in the lid. The person using the box then associates the sounds with the photograph.

Eventually, she developed the idea into a product and funded it through Kickstarter (although it’s darned difficult to tell if the Pi is still used!). The Kickstarter finished last year and they are now into production (although COVID-19 has delayed them somewhat). Their aim is eventually to get the MMB into care homes across the world.

The BBC’s Digital Planet covered it well in this audio segment (when it was definitely using the Pi) and Bargain Hunt today did a dementia special segment on the box which you can watch here. You can read a lot more about the project on the website here.

As an aside: you can learn about music therapy from Dementia UK.

Here’s the Kickstarter video, for those who are interested:

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