Everyday Sounds of Dementia: Tumbler

The project Everyday Sounds of Dementia aims to research the potential of sound and soundscapes in design of technology and services for people living with dementia. [..].  There exists a large body of evidence on how sound and music provide emotional and behavioural benefits. [..] In this project, we combine healthcare expertise with design-research approaches to establish a knowledge framework of the added value of sound in care facilities and develop and evaluate audio-based technology with immediate meaningful impact in care practice.

Tumbler is a device developed within the Everyday Sounds of Dementia research program at the TU/e. It is a mobile audio device designed to play soundscapes specifically created for each user.  By rotating and shaking the player, new segments of the soundscapes are triggered. These segments can be parts of a personal story or specific sound effects to enhance the ambiance. Next to the Tumbler, a custom charging dock with a small user interface (volume, sound recording) is made as well as an online content management and database system. Here sound-designers, caretakers and relatives can make and adjust soundscapes according to specific users. All changes are automatically synched and downloaded to the Tumbler.

We were involved in the development of the Tumbler from the early stages of development, creating a symbiotic design process between research, users and technology. As a final result, three sets of Tumblers were made.