Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Dementia day clocks - false claims - misleading marketing - scientific research - sharing

Since the launch of both my free files for Digital Photo Frames, and the launch of the Android app by Zeezap, BIME's own version of the day clock seems to be coming down in price!

Initially, it was marketed at around £80 GBP. Today, at least one website was selling it at £65 GBP. In order to compete, both BIME and its commercial partner need to bring the price down still further.

The problem here is, that although the BIME digital frame is a slightly modified version of a commercially available frame, it is still a cheap frame. Whilst I accept they need funding for further research, the whole essence of a dementia day clock is for people who through no fault of their own, are living with a currently an incurable condition.

To make commercial profits from this, as BIME's partner company does, is unacceptable. This is commercial exploitation of vulnerable people.

I make no excuse for this statement. My files a free. Zeezap's  app is at the higher end of the Android market - but is still extremely affordable - BIME's product, for what it does, and what it is, is not.

Yes, it is a niche market. However it is not a market that should be exploited for profit - reinvestment yes - profit no! We still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding everything about dementia. BIME specialises in medical engineering, and apart from the "dementia day clock", has created little to help those living with dementia. Yet it, and it's commercial partner, have attempted to reap the benefits from selling their "dementia day clock".

Such a clock, will not work for everyone living with dementia, yet, this is the claim on the official DayClock website:

"In the UK there are nearly 750,000 people who have Dementia. If a loved one has dementia or any other memory loss problems, the DayClock will help remind them the time of day. Making dementia more manageable."

You cannot, by any stretch of the imagination make dementia, especially for the person living with dementia, more manageable! Their carers and family may well be able to help manage things for them, but how on earth do you manage dementia? You can't! It is a condition, over which we have no control as yet, and may well not have, for quite some time.

Also the claim that the DayClock "will" help, is a complete misnomer - BIME please provide the proof - such a clock "may" help, there is no guarantee whatsoever that it "will" help.

Everyone living with dementia is different, and the way they are affected by the condition, also varies from one person to the next. To make such a sweeping vague statement, yet claim unproven benefits, is undoubtedly in breach of advertising regulations in a number of countries.

BIME would be wise to distance itself from its commercial partner, and concentrate its efforts on improving the product, as well as making it more accessible to those with dementia, who can ill afford the product at its current price.

I would also add, there is another, even more inferior product, using a similar name - DayClox - making even more unsubstantiated claims. And, indeed, using TV celebrities to falsely promote their product.

How many people with dementia have appeared in these TV programmes, to support such claims? None!

I make no claims about using a day clock for someone living with dementia, other than it may help. However, since April this year, over 300 people have downloaded my free files, and so far, all feedback has been positive.

I make nothing from sharing my files, and would suggest, that until we can substantially prove that such a clock helps, everyone else does the same. Why? Because then we can obtain full and scientifically useful feedback, proving whether or not, such a method of communicating time, really does work for the many, or even just a few, who are living with, or may in the future, find themselves living with, dementia.

Monday, 5 August 2013

In response to the comment posted on this blog, by BIME

In view of a comment recently posted on my blog by BIME (see below), I would like to add my own comments...

"The "commercially available" similar dayclock you mention was researched and designed by us, a registered charity called the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering. We research and design solutions for disability and dementia is a major focus of our work. The dayclock is available from our commercial partner here and we receive a generous donation to our charitable work for each one sold. We trialed several versions of the wording and information displayed with many people living with dementia and their relatives and carers and finally settled on "Now it's ....." as it proved to be the most effective.

Given your statement about non licenced use being pursued in accordance with international copyright laws and the fact that you are asking for a "donation" we would have appreciated it if you had contacted us or our partner before launching your "similar" solution.

As a registered charity we are dependent on income from our designs as well as charitable donations in order to continue with our work helping people with dementia.
Perhaps you would like to consider making a donation to us?"

The concept of a day clock for dementia is not new, there have been many analogue versions available for many years. Some of which clearly display the day, and the period of the day. So that aspect of the concept is not new.

Adapting such a concept using more recent digital technology is also not new. BIME is behaving a little like Apple, in the Apple v Samsung scenario, except I am neither. I am one individual, an unpaid carer for someone living with dementia, trying to help others in similar circumstances, and I am not seeking any financial gain as a result.

As for design, and as a designer by profession, I would question BIME's use of the word "design". The typography is atrocious, and the choice of font, spacing, kerning and visual balance leaves a lot to be desired. For the elderly, many of whom may be visually impaired, white on black is also a poor choice. Black on yellow, has much better readability - hence its use in many other situations.

The type of Digital Photo Frame used in the BIME/Day-Clock product is available for less than £20, and even less when purchased in bulk. Yet Day-Clock retail them for £79.99. It is therefore not surprising that BIME receives a substantial donation for each clock sold.

The use of the words "Now it's..." or "It is now..." cannot, for obvious reasons, be copyrighted. Perhaps BIME would like to produce the research results showing that their choice of words is more effective. Especially as both myself, and Zeezap have chosen "It is now...", based upon our own, independent research.


Zeezap's version makes the classic error of using Capitals or Upper Case letters for its message. Upper case is always much more difficult to read, especially for the visually impaired. Sadly, as can be seen from the image above, they have also made another classic blunder - it is 8:02am, yet the sun is in the west - a setting sun, in the morning?

For printed matter, serif typefaces are better for readability, yet for digital media, with backlighting, sans serif has, for many years, proven to be better. The upper and lower case rule still applies. Initial capitals and lower case retain a greater readability than either all lower case or all capitals/upper case. In fact, for modern usage, this can be traced back to the design of the UK's motorway signs, designed by Jock Kinnear and Margaret Calvert. Instant information is more easily read using upper and lower case against a darker, but not black, background. Blue and green are often the best background colours for this. Hence the colour of the images I have used.

BIME refers to my statement that I will pursue unlicensed commercial use. This is to protect the composite images, created by myself, from commercial exploitation, and not for personal gain. As stated, I have yet to receive a single penny for making the files freely available.

BIME Day-Clock

The BIME version of the clock is merely words on a black background, and does not use visual images which change according to the period of the day. The Zeezap, downloadable Android version ($9.99), like mine, does use period changing images. Zeezap's version only appeared after my files became available. This would tend to indicate that I have a stronger case against Zeezap, than BIME has against me - yet that is not my intention. My intention is to make such a clock available to as many people as possible, so that those who can gain benefit from it, are able to do so. And, at the lowest possible cost.

BIME's comment also states that I ask for a donation, yet the text on my blog clearly states "if you find this useful and would like to make a small donation" - this is not a request for a donation, merely an opportunity for those who wish to make a donation, to do so. Unlike BIME's direct request above.

The files to create a "Dementia Day Clock" (none of these words are copyrightable) were first made available on 21 April 2013. Yet, it has taken BIME until 5 August 2013 to make any comment. Why? Recently, this blog has ranked in the top ten on Google searches for "dementia day clock", sometimes ahead of BIME's day clock. Under the Google image search, using the same keywords, it has been number 2 for quite some time. Day-Clock (BIME's commercial partners) are clearly not marketing the product effectively, and the price of the product is too high. Why would I want to buy their product, when I can create my own for well under half the price?

My version

Finally, the statement "Perhaps you would like to consider making a donation to us?" This IS asking for a donation. I am a full-time unpaid carer for my Mother, who lives with vascular dementia. For a charity to ask such a question, especially of someone in my position, someone they are supposedly helping, is unforgivable. Charitable donations are voluntary, and under UK law, should not be acquired using harassment, coercion or pressure.

BIME, whilst I admire the work you do, I think your comment on my blog is unacceptable. Be charitable by all means, but to obtain revenue from the extortionate price of your product, aimed at ill and vulnerable people, is frankly outrageous, and smacks of exploitation by your commercial partner, from which you as a charity, also benefit financially. Please get your own house in order, before attacking those you are supposed to be helping.

And thank you for giving me the opportunity to promote my "solution" still further. After all there's no such thing as bad publicity. As a result, we should both benefit. And, hopefully, so should those we aspire to help. Perhaps BIME should adopt a more ethical approach when selecting commercial partners, rather than exploiting those it proclaims to help.

Dementia awareness is my cause. Exploitation of those who live with it, is a battle I will fight against, on their behalf! BIME and Day-Clock - be warned!

Monday, 6 May 2013

What people are saying...

Find out how to create this clock here...

Mumsnet forum

"I've been having fun with this, I've got a new night-time picture showing a bed wth someone sleeping and a new Thursday night picture with a dustbin and the message 'put the bins out'. Lovely as your pictures are I will probably swap them all out for more personal ones. It's a brilliant idea which would also work well for a child." 

Alzheimer's Society forum

"I'm very interested in this clock for my father who has a problem with night and day and I'm finding he gets very confused and rings me at all hours of the day."

"Thanks for a wonderful idea will look at your blog, my mum however does not like electric things left on, can it work just on a battery?"

A: Not as yet - suitable Digital Photo Frames need to be connected to the mains power supply to operate. 

Carers UK

"So clever, especially like the nighttime one. When it is night, mum frequently thinks there has been a power cut..."

"That is really clever. It would have helped my MIL. We tried using stars on a chart to help her keep track of time, but that would have been much better." 

Via email

"I like the idea but have tons of questions, as I am not too 'up' in the tech world."

Alzheimer's Disease International - information and resources for family caregivers

"What a fantastic idea. I work with dementia in -------- and I know that this would be a great asset to lots of sufferers. Well done. How much would this cost to set up?"

A: The cost of a Digital Photo Frame and any external storage media required. 

Caron Cares - post about clocks for people living with dementia

"That’s excellent and very ingenious of you to adapt a digital photo frame to do the same job." 

Monday, 29 April 2013

Variations on the basic theme

Extending the possibilities...

The Dementia Day Clock for Digital Photo Frames, is designed to help people living with dementia, to enable them to recognise which day it is, along with the current period of the day - Morning, Afternoon, Evening or Night.

A Day Clock may not be suitable for everyone living with dementia. Using a commercially available Digital Photo Frame, along with the images available here, will help you find out if a Day Clock is suitable - free (apart from the cost of the Photo Frame). If the Day Clock does not prove suitable, the Photo Frame can still be used to display photos from the past, helping to prompt discussion about the times the person living with dementia, can still remember.

The files for the Day Clock are currently set up to display just the day and the period of the day. However, the whole system is flexible enough to provide other visual prompts at various times of the day.

A simple change, would be to replace the Night period so that it would say "It is now time to Sleep".

Then, there are other possibilities...

It is now time to Wake Up.
It is now time for Breakfast.
It is now time for Lunch.
It is now time for Dinner.

Each of these would display for an hour at the appropriate time, after which the clock would return to the normal Day and Day Period display.

Further research...

I'm also looking into the possibilities of using Digital Photo Frames capable of playing sound files, so that an audible message is played at a specific time.

If you have any suggestions about improving the Dementia Day Clock for Digital Photo frames, please feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Questions about the Day Clock for Digital Photo Frames

Some questions I've been asked

Being a member of a number of forums, relating to carers and dementia, where I've informed other members about how to create the Day Clock, a number of questions have been asked. I will try to answer some of them here, and update the answers as more information is gained.

Q. Do the images go out of sync if there is a power failure?

A. First, I'll mention the commercially available Day Clock. According to their instructions, "if mains power is removed or fails, the time and date options will need resetting."

As for commercially available Digital Photo Frames, this would firstly depend on whether they have a battery back-up or not. If they do, then the time and date should be retained, however, the images may not be in sync. If they are not, then they would need to be advanced to the correct day and time.

This process is simple, simpler in fact, than trying to adjust a mains powered digital clock. As stated in the instructions in the previous post, all that needs to be done is to advance the images to that of the correct day and hour - so Tuesday at 3pm would be image 2_15 (Day 2 at 15:00 hours).

Q. What happens if it is unplugged? Quote: "This might work for many but I have tried this and my dad unplugs everything when he goes to bed and turns it on again in the morning. The frame I used didn't have enough battery back-up and everything had to be re-set which wasn't practical. Great idea though."

A. Of course, this is a problem when the person you care for, has a habit of unplugging things. Whilst there is no direct solution to this regarding Digital Photo Frames, a few environmental modifications may help. Try to plug the frame into a socket that is both out of reach, and out of sight. Use a wall mountable frame, and hide any cabling in a plastic conduit - tell the person you care for that the frame is battery operated (partly true).

There are also, a few short term battery operated Digital Photo Frames. Philips certainly make one, and it will run for up to 8 hours on battery power. But it will still need to be plugged in for most of the time, to recharge the batteries. They are also much more expensive.

Q. What about when a person's faculties begin to deteriorate? Quote: "I think it's a fantastic idea and apart from the obvious problems of power cuts and deteriorating faculties, is a splendid idea for the time it's useful and that can be quite extended, I know it would have been useful for Mam for the last couple of years."

A. There are a number of ways of extending the useful "life" of the Day Clock. A dementia sufferer may no longer be able to read the words, but the meaning of the images may still be understood. When this happens, a series of slides, with the images only can be used (these will be available soon - but should only be used after the original slides, as there would be no established image perception).

If the images are no longer understood, it may then be possible to substitute simple colours - colours that closely match those of the images used previously (these slides will also be made available here). Once colour perception is lost, the colours can be replaced by tonal values, cool grey (Morning), warm white (Afternoon), warm grey (Evening) and black (Night). After this point, we would need to replace any visual stimulus with sound (hearing, unless this has been lost for other reasons, is the last of the senses to go - something else I am looking into).

All of these solutions may, or may not work for the person concerned, and should only be used in sequence. It is unlikely that the dementia sufferer would understand their meaning, if they were introduced to the system half way through the cycle.

There can be no guarantee that such a Day Clock will work for everyone. Some people with dementia develop a mistrust of many things, and may believe the clock to be set to the wrong time. All I can suggest is that if you wish to try them with a Day Clock, then do - if it works for them, great! If not, at least the Digital Photo Frame can then be used for what it is, and loaded up with photos from the person's past, to help them recall the things they can remember.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Day Clock for people living with dementia

Day Clock for Digital Photo Frames

This particular Day Clock was created for my Mother, who is 86, and was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2011. It is in her bedroom, and sits next to her TV, which she watches most of the time. It is clearly visible to her for most of the day, and throughout the night. I have made the files needed to create a similar clock, freely available to all who would find it useful for a parent, relative, friend or patient, who has dementia. There is a similar, commercially available Day Clock for people with Dementia, created by the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering (BIME), but many Digital Photo Frames can be used in a similar way to create this Day Clock.

For those wishing to find out more about BIME the link is here, or you can contact their Deputy Director by email here If you wish to purchase the BIME DayClock then please visit

The Digital Photo Frame illustrated above, is a Motorola MLC800, this is the model I have used to create the Day Clock. As you can see, it has its own built in clock and calendar - these can be switched off, if they are not required (I find the clock and calendar useful, but they are of no significance to my Mother). The clock has only been up and running a week, and I have already noticed that the "It is now" part of the message is irrelevant - so I will produce a new set of slides where these words are omitted.

PLEASE NOTE! There are at least two versions of the MLC800, and not all models seem to be able to display the time and calendar as well as the image. Others have reported that the Motorola MF801 does work.

Before you consider paying for an expensive Digital Photo Frame based Day Clock, try this. Why? Because Day Clocks do not work for all people with dementia. This way, you can try it out, and if it works, then fine. If it doesn't, you'll still have a photo frame, that can be loaded with images from your loved one's past, to use as a visual prompt to encourage conversation about their past memories - the ones they retain the longest.

The principle behind this clock is to enable those with Alzheimer's and other forms of Dementia, to have a better perception of the time of day. Rather than displaying the time, the clock displays a period during the day or night, along with the actual day.

The current slides have a photo background relevant to the period of day, to help with visual perception. There will soon be other types of slides. Slides with a coloured background, again relevant to the period of the day. Slides on a white background for Morning and Afternoon, and a black background for Evening and Night. Or slides simply on a non-changing black or white background.

This particular set of images is optimised for use on an 8” frame with a 4:3 aspect ratio and an 800x600 pixel display. Suitable 7" or 8” frames can be obtained for around £30 to £40. There will soon be slides for 16:9 apsect ratio frames with a 480x234 pixel display.


How it works

Many Digital Photo Frames allow for a slide show duration of one hour, for each slide. In order to use this system, you need to ensure that the Digital Photo Frame used, allows for a one hour slide duration.

The system uses four separate periods for each day – Morning, Afternoon, Evening and Night. Morning and Afternoon each have a six hour duration, Morning – 6am to 12 noon, Afternoon – 12 noon to 6pm. Evening has a four hour duration – 6pm to 10pm, and Night has an eight hour duration – 10pm to 6am.

The day displayed does not change until the Morning period, so for example, Sunday Night remains until 6am the following day when it then becomes Monday Morning, in line with the perception that we go to sleep on one day (Sunday), and wake up the following day (Monday). This is to avoid any confusion that may be caused by changing say Monday Night into Tuesday Night at midnight. If someone was to wake up at 2am after going to sleep on Monday Night, and the display tells them it is now Tuesday Night, they may think they have been asleep for over 24 hours.

File naming system

The image file naming system is based simply on a day number and an hour number. Monday is 1, Tuesday is 2 etc. The hours are simply based on the 24 hour clock. The slide for Monday (day 1) at midnight is named 1_00 (day 1, 00:00 hours), the slide for Wednesday (day 3) at 2pm is named 3_14 (day 3, 14:00 hours). All of the daily periods can be changed, simply by copying and pasting the relevant images and then changing the file name in accordance with the above naming principle.

Changing the duration of day periods

The basic 6 hour principle, is used to separate the two daytime periods – Morning and Afternoon, whilst a 4/8 split is used for the two night time periods, 4 hours for Evening and 8 hours for Night. These periods can be adjusted to suit the person concerned. Evening, for example, can be shortened - so that it exists between just 6pm and 9pm, after which it becomes Night. To do this, all that needs to be done, is to copy a Night image for a particular day, paste it, and rename it to replace the later Evening images. So, for example, where Monday Evening at 9pm is 1_21, the Monday Night copy, would be renamed 1_21 to replace it. The night period would then be 9 hours, instead of eight. Repeat this, for each day of the week.

When to adjust the duration of day periods

If the person concerned is known to you, and their daily patterns are also known, then duration adjustments can be made in accordance with your own personal knowledge of that person. If, however, such a pattern is unknown, it would be advised that adhering to the basic 6 hour daytime and 4/8 hour nighttime principle, would probably the best solution in the short term.

Setting up the Digital Photo Frame

Once the files have been downloaded, extracted (from the zip file), and any duration adjustments have been made, copy the images (not the folder) to any of the types of media accepted by your Digital Photo Frame, and insert the media into the Photo Frame. Set up the slide show, in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, for each slide to change after one hour, and in sequence (don't use random, otherwise the day clock will display the wrong images, at the wrong time).

Again, in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, advance to the relevant slide for the day and hour of the day of the set up. So, for example, if you have set it up on Thursday at or after 3pm, and before 4pm, advance the slide show to image 4_15 (Thursday (Day 4) at 15:00 hrs). As long as the slide show is set to be on permanently, the clock will now change according to the day period and the day.

If your Digital Photo Frame has a “Night Mode”, ensure that this is switched to “Off”, otherwise the sequence of slides may be interrupted during the night, and will no longer display the correct slide for the time of day.

If your Photo Frame does not change the image on the hour (many do), it is advisable to set up your Photo Frame as close to the change of the hour as possible.

Adjusting for Daylight Saving Time

When the time comes to change in accordance with daylight saving time adjustments, either advance (Spring) or go back (Autumn) one slide, so that the day clock reflects the time adjustment.

Key requirements for suitable Digital Photo Frames


  • 7" or 8” diagonal display size
  • 800x600 pixel display
  • 4:3 aspect ratio
  • 1 hour slide duration
  • Auto dim for night time use
  • Minimum imternal memory of at least 16Mb, or external digital media such as SD cards, USB flash etc. (External digital media normally needs to be purchased separately)


Use of this system

No guarantees are made that this system will work successfully on any Digital Photo Frame used. However, if you do use it and find it useful, or indeed have any suggestions for improvement, then please contact

Other languages

The slides are currently only in English, it is my intention, over the next few months, to create slides for other languages, initially these will be French, German, Italian and Spanish. Other languages will be added later.

Download images here: 


File type: zip (containing 168 JPEG images), file size: 13Mb. is my own website address. The file has been tested and found to be free of any viruses, trojans etc. If, however, you have any concerns, then please ensure that the file is scanned before opening.

I have also created a set of files which do not include the words "It is now", these are available to download below.


Please feel free to comment, and if you do use the system on any Digital Photo Frame other than the model mentioned here, I would be grateful to hear from you to let me know how it worked, and any changes that may need to be made, especially regarding the frame settings. I will then be able to compile a list of the most compatible frames - which I will publish here once this information has been received.

Also - please feel free to share this blog with anyone you know who may find it useful. It's free, and I want as many people to benefit from it as possible.

Downloads and use

The system is free to download and use, for private use, in accordance with the appropriate Creative Commons License (see below).

Digital Photo Frame manufacturers - you are free to use this system under a negotiable license - contact me for further details. Non licensed use, will be pursued in accordance with international copyright laws.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.