SmartSocks designed to help keep dementia under control
People suffering from dementia not only get confused, they can also become highly anxious and even aggressive. In order to catch such behaviors before they escalate out of control, a British scientist has developed a pair of sensor-packin' socks.
University of Bristol roboticist Dr. Zeke Steer first got the idea after witnessing his own great grandmother's increasing behavioral problems as her dementia progressed.
Because such seniors often end up in care homes where they can't be continuously monitored in person, he set out to develop a wearable technology that would alert caregivers at the first signs of dementia-related distress.
Steer also wanted that wearable to take the form of a familiar garment that is already worn on a regular basis, so it would be readily adopted by recipients.
The resulting product, SmartSocks, is being commercialized via a UK startup called Milbotix. Here's how the system works …
Caregivers start by scanning a QR code on one of the socks using an app on their smartphone. Sensors in that sock then proceed to continuously monitor the wearer's heart rate, perspiration levels and body movements.
That data is wirelessly transmitted to a cloud-based server, where machine-learning-based algorithms analyze it in real time. If signs of agitation are detected, the caregiver is notified via an alert on their phone. They then immediately tend to the wearer, hopefully calming them down before things get out of hand.
The socks themselves are fully machine-washable, and have already been successfully tested in British care homes. They are now the subject of a crowdfunding campaign on the Crowdcube platform, where interested parties can provide financial backing.
An initial "Discovery" version of the socks, intended for research and evaluation use, should launch in the second quarter of next year. Pricing has yet to be announced.