Comfort shoes with embedded GPS to keep track of Alzheimer's patients
By Darren Quick
October 26, 2011
As millions of baby boomers approach 65, the rates of Alzheimer's sufferers is expected to continue to rise significantly in the coming decade. Already 5.4 million Americans are living with the disease with that figure predicted to rise to as many as 16 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association. To make it easier for caregivers and family members to keep track of those suffering dementia, Personal Location Services company GTX Corp has partnered with comfort shoe manufacturer Aetrex to produce the GPS Shoe that allows real-time tracking of the wearer.
GTX started out producing footwear for children with a miniaturized GPS chip and cellular device embedded in the sole that allowed parents to keep track of their offspring via an online portal and then started offering similar shoes aimed at long distance runners. Realizing that the technology would also be beneficial in keeping track of those suffering dementia the company partnered with Aetrex to embed its GPS technology into comfort and wellness shoes for the elderly.
While there are already a number of wearable GPS devices such as watches and bracelets designed to keep track of loved ones - young and old - and even non-humans. Shoes are a perfect fit for the technology as it's something the person being tracked is unlikely to wander off without. They're also likely to be more comfortable or the elderly than the GPS platform shoes we looked at a few years ago.
The GTX system uses low power two-way GPS tracking technology that continually tracks the location and movement history of the wearer and relays the information to a monitoring center through mobile networks. The wearer can then be pinpointed by logging into a secure internet portal or via a smartphone app. The system also allows caregivers to receive an alert on their smartphone or computer with a direct link to Google maps plotting the wearer's location when the GPS shoe moves outside a preset area.
The GPS technology is protected inside a cavity made from a polycarbonate material placed in the midsole of the shoe, which GTX says should last for the normal duration of the shoe - one to three years.
Having recently received FCC certification, the shoes are set to go on sale in the U.S. this month through Aetrex priced at US$299 a pair.