GameStation Move offers many notes of cheer and respite from the harsh realities of ill health with its simple-to-operate Xbox One or PlayStation 4 consoles that are able to play games, DVDs and music, both CDs and digital, as well as connect to the internet. Designed with secure storage, relaxing lighting and chargeable USB points, the adjustable stand works in a similar way to over-bed tables. Switching is easy for staff between patients, wards and rooms, making both long and short stays in very difficult situations a bit easier. Seven have just been installed in Birmingham Children’s Hospital thanks to donations provided by the Chatting family via their Carter the Brave charity, borne out of their personal experience of problems very poorly young people face.
A collaboration with Sound Leisure’s SLKids division, which provides bespoke play solutions for the NHS, airports, visitor attractions, shopping centres and prisons, led to the patent-pending innovation that is the latest in a long line from the independently-owned British manufacturer.
Those began 41 years ago when, after repairing radios and a jukebox, it launched its own one paying homage to the retro 1940s and 1950s designs.
Today second-generation family son Chris Black is managing director running the sound-based products company with his brother Mike and wife Cath.
Chris Black is managing director
Bringing together traditional craftsmanship, engineering and technology in its factories in Leeds and Nottingham, the group has a £5million annual turnover and 80 staff, including some with over 25 years’ service and apprentices learning traditional skills.
Now renowned worldwide for its beautiful, personalised jukeboxes in all formats, it exports to 28 countries – a free-to-use one graces the architectural jewel that is London’s St Pancras railway station.
Less known however is the business’s formidable ability to adapt.
“We continually strive to create cutting edge, reliable products that are very visual and loaded with modern technology,” explains Chris Black.
“The arrival of CDs could have meant the end for us, but we adapted to that and then again with digital music playing jukeboxes.
A new mobile entertainment system, created by British classic jukebox maker Sound Leisure group
We continually strive to create cutting edge, reliable products that are very visual and loaded with modern technology
“Now vinyl has seen a resurgence, taking us full circle and we were the first in the world to make vinyl playing jukeboxes again. Sales of these have risen 500 per cent in the last three years. Technology has simplified, you can do so much more now with less.”
How people listen to music and government policy have had a huge effect on the business, he says.
“Originally most of our jukeboxes were sold to pubs, as these closed we have weathered the changes with new products, new distributor deals and quick decision making resulting in quick product enhancements.”
Machines costs from £6,000 for those playing CDs to £10,000 and more for the most elaborate and bespoke vinyl format treasures.
Customers, many of whom find making a personal visit to the factory all part of the joy include royalty, sports stars, celebrities and corporates such as footwear icon Dr Martens and finance giant KPMG.
“But the majority of our clients are people who appreciate hand-built quality and like really listening to music. Others are younger, looking for something different to the mass produced,” adds Black.
Funding from the Government-backed Digital Enterprise programme is enabling Sound Leisure to invest £20,000 in a pioneering large format printer for its customised jukeboxes, so it can stop outsourcing, improve efficiency meeting production schedules and diversify into new markets.
“Having the capacity to design and reproduce our own artwork gives us full control and will be a game changer for us opening new product lines,” says Black.
The GameStation Move will now be marketed to hospitals internationally and £50 of each sale will be donated to Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s charity.
Miranda Williams, the public fundraising manager for the hospital’s charity, said: “GameStation Move is going to make such a difference to our patients. One of the key aims of our charity is to improve the hospital environment and experience for our kids and families and these will definitely help to do that. We’re so thankful to the Chattings for their support and are pleased that we’re the first children’s hospital in the UK to be able to offer something like this to our patients.”
Black sees Sound Leisure as playing a big role in the future helping dementia patients too. “Whether it is dancing round a jukebox or lying in bed, we are a manufacturer of memories,” he declares.