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!