17 October 2012
GPS shoes to track lost relatives
New shoes have been released for sale in the UK which contain a built-in tracking device which can be used to track Alzheimer’s patients.
The shoes should give worried relatives piece of mind but enabling the person living with Alzheimer’s to be tracked remotely, also giving them more independence. One of the most common worries for families is the dementia sufferer getting disorientated and confused, unable to find their way home.
The shoes contain a miniature GPS system, similar to those in sat-nav’s, which mean the wearers location can be accurately monitored. Relatives can monitor their movements via a smartphone app and even set alerts if their loved one strays out of pre-defined ‘safe’ zones.
The system, which cannot be seen or felt, is placed in the heel of the shoe and contains a battery, sim card and chip to help the device work. There is an antenna and USB connection to charge the shoe roughly every 2 days for 2 hours.
The tracking device was jointly developed by Los Angeles-based GTX Corp and Aetrex shoes.
Patrick Bertagna, chief executive of GTX Corp, said, “The mini GPS system was initially made for training shoes for long distance runners. But production was changed after tests showed the benefit to sufferers of the disease.”
Andrew Carle, a professor at George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services in Washington DC, said “The shoes will save lives and avoid embarrassing and costly incidents with the elderly. It’s especially important for people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s who are at the highest risk,’ said Professor Carle, who has advised on the project. They might be living in their home but they’re confused. They go for a walk and they can get lost for days.”
Other GPS tracking devices have previously been rejected by people living with dementia because paranoia is a manifestation of the disease. Carle added, “If you put something on someone with Alzheimer’s that they don’t recognize, they remove it. If it’s a wristwatch and it’s not their wristwatch, they will take it off. So you have to hide it.”