GPS shoes for Alzheimer's patients

June 6, 2009
An Alzheimers patient at a psychiatric hospital. A shoe-maker and GTX corp are teaming up to develop footwear with a built-in GPS device that could help track down "wandering" seniors suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.

A shoe-maker and a technology company are teaming up to develop footwear with a built-in GPS device that could help track down "wandering" seniors suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.

"The technology will provide the location of the individual wearing the shoes within 30 feet, anywhere on the planet," said Andrew Carle, an assistant professor at George Mason University who served as an advisor on the project.

"Sixty percent of individuals afflicted with will be involved in a 'critical wandering incident' at least once during the progression of the disease -- many more than once," he said Friday.

The shoes are being developed by GTX Corp., which makes miniaturized tracking and location-transmitting technology, and Aetrex Worldwide, a footwear manufacturer.

Carle said embedding a GPS device in a shoe was important because Alzheimer's victims tend to remove unfamiliar objects placed on them but getting dressed is one of the last types of memory they retain.

He said a "geo-fence" could be placed around a person's home and a "Google Map" alert sent to a cell phone, home or office computer when a programmed boundary is crossed.

"The shoe we intend on developing with Aetrex should help authorized family members, friends, or caretakers reduce their stress and anguish by enabling them to locate their loved ones instantly with the click of a mouse," said Chris Walsh, chief operating officer of GTX Corp.

The companies said they plan to begin testing the product by the fourth quarter of the year.

(c) 2009 AFP

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not rated yet Jun 06, 2009
This application of the technology has been needed for some time. Wonder if the cost will be prohibitive?
5 / 5 (1) Jun 06, 2009
Verizon sells a child tracking service for $9.95 per month over the cost of cell phone service.

I've also seen a cheaper device that can be thrown into a kid's backpack. It reports via text message to a website every few minutes.

You may argue that someone with Alzheimer's might not take their cell phone... yes, but how about the bracelet designed for kids?

As to using a shoe... heck, I hate wearing mine and take them off whenever I can!

I'm reminded of the NCIS case where "Tony" goes undercover in a prison to plan a fake "escape" to get a suspect to lead NCIS agents to the cache of goodies. A GPS tracker was put in his shoe to allow the escapees to be tracked. Unfortunately, they ran through a muddy field and Tony lost his shoe in the mud.

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