Introduction: Talking Shampoo/Conditioner Bottle for the Elderly/Visually-Impaired

This instructable describes how to add an auditory alert to a shampoo/conditioner bottle.  This is intended as an assistive device for the elderly, the visually-impaired, the mentally-impaired, or anyone who would like their shampoo/conditioner bottle to say something when the lid is opened.  

Showering/bathing without assistance is an everyday task that many people take for granted.  However, for someone who is elderly and forgetful or who has a hard time reading small print, just telling the difference between the different bottles in the shower can be a difficult task.  

For less than $10 and in less than 10 minutes, this instructable illustrates how to make your shampoo/conditioner bottle give an auditory message (i.e. how to say "shampoo" or "conditioner") when the lid is opened.  This auditory message is intended to help someone differentiate or identify different bottles/bath products when in the shower or when bathing.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

For this instructable, you will need:

Packing tape
A recordable greeting card (with or without music)
Plastic wrap (e.g. Saran wrap)
Shampoo or Conditioner with a lid that pops up to open (as shown in the image below)

Step 2: Record Your Message Onto the Greeting Card

Follow the instructions on the greeting card to record your message.  I suggest "shampoo" or "conditioner", depending on the bottle.  For someone who has memory problems or is forgetful "I'm the shampoo, use me first!" may be appropriate.  Open and close the card to check that your message has been recorded and that you are satisfied with it.  If not, follow the instructions in the card to re-record your message.

Note:  When choosing a recordable greeting card, the card occasion doesn't matter (as seen here I have a Mother's Day card).  However, if you choose a card that plays music after your message, I suggest finding a song that you, or the person who will use this device, likes.  After all, every time the shampoo/conditioner bottle is opened, the song will play after your recording.

Step 3: Open the Greeting Card to Reveal the Circuitry Inside

Pull apart the card to reveal the speaker and circuit board.  As indicated in the second image, inside the card is a speaker, a circuit board, a switch, and the button that you pressed to record your message onto the card.  

The speaker is activated by opening the card.  When the card is opened, the speaker turns on and plays your recorded message.  This happens because opening the card moves the plastic piece (in the box on the left) out of the way so that two metal pieces of the switch come into contact and close the circuit on the board (i.e. turn it on).  We will use this same motion (opening the front flap of the card) to activate the speaker when it is attached to the shampoo/conditioner bottle.

Step 4: Cut the Wires to the Record Button

As seen in the images from the last step, the record button on the upper right is connected to the circuit board by two wires.  With scissors, cut the these wires  as close to the circuit board as possible.

IMPORTANT:  Once you cut these wires, you will not (easily) be able to record a message onto the card.  Please make sure that you are satisfied with your message before cutting these wires.

Step 5: Trim Excess Card Stock From Around the Circuit

The circuit board and speaker, as well as the plastic piece of the switch that activates the speaker when the card is opened should be glued to the card.  With the scissors, cut away the excess card stock as shown.  

DO NOT cut through the plastic piece of the switch that connects to the front flap of the card.

Step 6: Wrap Card and Circuitry in Plastic Wrap

Wrap the remainder of the card and circuitry in a sheet of plastic wrap.  Be sure to wrap it so that the hinge at the plastic switch can still fold over.  

The goal of wrapping the card in plastic wrap is to make it waterproof.  However, there is no need to go overboard with the plastic wrap.  One layer free of holes and securely wrapped should be all that's necessary.

Step 7: Tape the Plastic-wrapped Card to Your Shampoo/conditioner Bottle

As I mentioned earlier, you need a shampoo/conditioner bottle with a top that opens up (as seen in the second image below).  This is so that when the top is opened, it opens up like the front cover of the card, moving the switch to activate the speaker.

Using the packing tape, securely tape the plastic-wrapped card to the back of the bottle.  One layer of tape should do it.  The more tape you use, the less likely you will be able to untape the device to use it again on another bottle.  Also, tape down the switch to the top of the bottle as shown in the fourth image.

When taped correctly, opening the lid of the bottle should activate the speaker.  I suggest finding the right spot for the card on the bottle and lid before taping it down.  If not positioned correctly, the speaker may not go off when the lid is opened.

Step 8: Test Your New Talking Shampoo/conditioner Bottle

Please see the video below for a demo of the device.

When the lid of the shampoo bottle is opened, the speaker activates and you can hear the word "shampoo".  The speaker is actually louder than it sounds in the video (the microphone on my camera is pretty weak).  That being said, I suggest testing this in your shower to ensure that the speaker is loud enough to be heard over the spray of the shower head (if not taking a bath).  

The speaker was loud enough to be heard over my shower (my camera isn't waterproof, so I have no video to demonstrate this, sorry!), but I will admit the water pressure in my shower isn't very strong.  

Also, in the few tests (3-4 showers) I have run, my card has proven to be waterproof.  I have no idea how long this will last, but I do suggest that you store your shampoo/conditioner out of the direct "line of fire" of the shower spray.

Step 9: Troubleshooting

A) I think the batteries died in my card.  How do I change the batteries?

The batteries are, for all intents and purposes, not changeable (this depends on the card and your familiarity with circuit design). So if your card dies, I'd suggest making another (it's probably cheaper than buying 3 new watch batteries anyway).

I have no idea how long the batteries on your talkng shampoo/conditioner will work.  In the card shown in this demo, the speaker and associated circuit is power by 3 watch batteries.  The life of your card will depend on how often the bottle is opened and closed and how waterproof the circuit is.

B) I want to change the message I recorded, but I've already cut the wires to the record button.  What do I do?

Though I haven't tested this myself, you should be able to activate the recording mechanism on the card again by doing the following: take a piece of wire or something else conductive (metal, like a safety pin) and bridge the two remaining nubs of wire on the circuit board  where you originally cut the wires for the record button.  Said another way, connect the two wires on the circuit board with a piece of wire or one side of a safety pin.  Once you do this, you should be able to record a message onto the card as you did before.  DO NOT touch anything else on the circuit board with your wire/safety pin!  You may short something and break the circuits on the board.

C) I finished the bottle of shampoo/conditioner that my talking card is on.  Can I reuse it on another bottle?

Sure!  Simply untape the card and tape it onto the new shampoo/conditioner bottle.  If you rip the plastic wrap in the process, rewrap the card.

D) Can I use my talking card for anything else?

Of course!  Follow this instructable to make anything with a lid (which opens on a hinge) talk, from cookie jars to pill boxes!  

D) My preferred brand of shampoo/conditioner doesn't have the right lid for this instructable.  What can I do?

You can switch bottles or brands or see what changes you can make to this instructable to make it work for you.  The goal of this instructable was to describe the quickest, easiest, and more inexpensive way to make a shampoo/conditioner bottle talk.  As such, I choose a bottle whose design (i.e. the way the lid opens) best meshed with recordable greeting cards.


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