ReJAM Research

The ReJAM project started in 2015 with the first prototypes of music applications for elderly, which were evaluated in terms of engagement and usability during formative studies with the target group. In 2016 we developed the second generation of prototypes, which were evaluated in the summer of 2016.

The prototypes in 2015 consisted of an interface for the caregivers to create playlists based on life events or periods. The playlists could be accessed through a virtual picture album; when the picture was touched, the corresponding music started playing. The pictures were obtained from the caregivers and added to the life events. If no pictures were available, generic pictures were obtained from the internet (e.g. a picture of the artist or the album, or a picture that presented a characteristic image of that specific period of time). Another way to access the playlist was through a picture slideshow. Upon touching the event, a slideshow started while the music played. This particular design included more visual stimuli compared to the music album, and required for more pictures to be added to the application. This can be challenging as pictures of the early to mid 1900s aren't easily available. In the future, we expect this particular design to become more relevant as more and more digital photographic material from people's early life will be available.



The prototypes in 2016 included the development of two music-based games: one game designed for individual and/or dyadic experience sharing, the other for group-based experience sharing under the guidance of a professional caregiver. In addition, we developed robot behaviours for the NAO: these behaviours included music bingo, physical upper-body exercises, and guided reminiscence. These prototypes were evaluated in the summer of 2016.



The effects observed in evaluations and field studies so far are as follows:

  • Especially participants with strong musical preferences start singing and humming along with music of their personal preference.
  • Especially participants with strong musical preferences fall silent at times, when listening to the music they like.
  • Especially participants with strong musical preferences start talking about their past upon hearing music.
  • For almost all participants the following was true: when listening to music they did not like, they expressed very clearly that this music is not something they like/listen to. People were very decisive and specific about their preferences.
  • In a social context, music often led to (moments of) recognition, and of social connectedness between people with dementia: upon recognizing a song and seeing someone else also recognizing the song, people look at one another, smile or laugh at one another, point at one another - as if to say: you know it as well as I do!
  • Most of the participants with dementia left the handling of the touchscreen application up to the researchers. Those who did try, were - after some practice - able to use it though.
  • When designing an application for use in the dementia care practice, it is important to ensure that the design fits the daily schedule and procedures of the clinic/meeting center/care facility/home.
  • It is wise to also provide roles for the caregivers when designing a music activity application for the dementia care practice - their knowledge can be of invaluable use to the personalisation and effectiveness of the application.
  • The physical upper body exercise activity was experienced as too fast and too short. People had trouble keeping up with the movements. In addition, people did not seem to enjoy this activity as much as the games and reminiscence activities.
  • The music bingo activity was experienced as fun and cognitively stimulating.
  • The reminiscence activities were by far the most succesful in terms of recall, mood, and social interaction. Some people even started to dance and move to the beat.


Peeters, M.M.M., Harbers, M., and Neerincx, M.A. (2016), Designing a Personal Music Assistant that Enhances the Social, Cognitive, and Affective Experiences of People with Dementia, Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 63, pp. 727-737, ISSN 0747-5632, DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.06.003, Elsevier.

Peeters, M.M.M., van den Bosch, K., Meyer, J.-J. Ch., and Neerincx, M.A. (2016) Agent-Based Personalisation and User Modeling for Personalised Educational Games, in: Proceedings of the International Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation, and Personalisation (UMAP2016), Nova Scotia, Canada, ACM.

Peeters, M.M.M. (2016) ReMindMe: Agent-based Support for Self-disclosure of Personal Memories in People with Alzheimer’s Disease, In: Proceedings of the International Conference on ICT for Aging and Well-Being (ICT4AWE2016), ISBN 978-989-758-180-9, pp. 61-66, DOI: 10.5220/0005913000610066, ScitePress.

Psychoula, I (2016), Robotic e-Partner that engages in music-related group activities with people  affected by dementia - The Design and Evaluation of a Robotic e-Partner Engaging People with Dementia in Joint Activities with Music, M.Sc. Thesis, Delft University of Technology, 22 Nov 2016.