Transcendental Tunes, by José de la O is a project that combines RFID with old school stereo equipment and digital tunes to serves as a memory trigger and emotional aid for Alzheimer's patients, improving communication with their care partners. Under the premise that those affected by Alzheimer's don't lose their memories, but just their capacity to reach them, the project takes advantage of the observation that the Medial Prefrontal Cortex, the part of the brain responsible for familiar music, memories and emotion, is one of the last areas to atrophy over the course of the disease. This system uses music as a means of accessing those memories and making new, meaningful connections.
Jose explains how the project works, also illustrated in the video above:
After the care partner chooses a song that connects him with the patient living with Alzheimer's, he stores the meaningful song on a digital jewelry piece. A metallic icon who works as an RFID antenna, housed by an translucent gem, triggers the song when placed on top of an vintage-looking audio devise. This digital jewel becomes not only the carrier of an auditory stimulus, but the physicality of the jewel also carries a meaningful connection for the care partner.
The old-looking wooden audio artifact, with no knobs, buttons or displays, has been designed with the Alzheimer patient in mind. A patient living with Alzheimer's cannot recognize new objects as musical-providing devises, that is why the designer has to look to the past to design for them. The readability of the object has to be subtle and quiet.
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