A GPS shoe insole tracker could be just the solution needed for the huge challenge of wandering in people with dementia

This week saw the arrival of the GPS SmartSole by US wearable technology company GTX Corp available for sale via Unforgettable.org.

It’s an innovative insole which can be used to unobtrusively monitor your loved one and allow you to find them should they become lost. The insole contains global positioning satellite (GPS) technology and has a battery life that lasts 2-3 days to ensure lasting safety between charges.

The technology lets you create ‘geozones’ around a specific address or addresses so the person wearing the insoles can move around the zone, but if they leave the area, you can be alerted via an app on your phone (available for both IOS and Android) or through text or email.

The problem of wandering

According to a 2013 World Alzheimer's Report from the US:

• 60% of people with Alzheimer’s will become ‘lost’ at least once.
• 70% of those will become ‘lost’ three or more times.
• 46% of wanderers not found within 24 hours may die.

In addition to this, the average search and rescue operation in the US costs the police $10,000. However, more than just statistics, wandering is widely recognised as one of the biggest fears amongst carers of those with dementia and can be hugely stressful if you’re caring for a loved one who becomes lost.

Despite all of this it is a surprisingly common issue for 850,000 people affected by dementia and is in the news weekly. From the case of ex-Blue Peter presenter John Noakes going missing for 10 hours while at his holiday home in Spain, to the tragic case of Janet McKay, who went missing from her home in Glasgow for eight days, and was later found dead. Both had dementia.

In many cases, although it may appear that the person is simply ‘wandering’ around aimlessly, they’re often trying to get somewhere for a specific reason, it’s just that the reason doesn’t quite tie in with where they should be at that current time. It’s why it’s often called ‘walking with purpose’. However, wandering can put the person in danger, and it’s essential that you find them as quickly as possible.

The inspiration for Smart Sole

The idea behind the insole came about from a famous missing persons case in the United States. In 2002, a 14-year-old girl called Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her parent’s house while the rest of her family slept. Luckily, she was found nine months later – alive – and her abductors were caught and brought to justice.

However, it gave Patrick Bertagna, chief executive of GTX, the idea of developing a GPS device that would have made finding Elizabeth much easier and faster.

He started developing a shoe that contained GPS technology in it. However, it was in 2007 when he was approached by Andrew Carle, an assistant professor at George Mason University, and an expert in senior housing issues and technology for the elderly, that they realised that the area where this would be of most benefit was in helping to locate people with degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, who had wandered off.

The Navistar SmartShoe, which had GPS trackers embedded into the heel, was developed under license. The SmartShoe was version one, and like most new technologies, version two – the SmartSole – came out a few years later. The added benefit was that individuals with dementia were unlikely to forget to leave the house with their normal shoes, ensuring the tracker stayed with them for longer.

The Navistar shoe
The Navistar shoe

Developing the insole

In 2014, GTX started creating a GPS SmartSole – a slim insole that could fit unnoticed into any shoe, but which still had the benefits of the previous technology.

The insole is manufactured in Germany using high quality materials and assembled in the USA and was launched there in January 2015. We are delighted to announce that the award-winning insole is now on sale in the UK via Unforgettable.org. Read below for more details on the insole.

The work of GTX has been formally recognised with the following awards and nomiations:
2015 – CTIA Tech Awards - 2nd Place
2015 – Member of United Nations Global Compact
2015 – AARP Top 10 New Technology
2015 – Connected World Award Finalists

The SmartSole and wireless charger The SmartSole and wireless charger

The end product

GPS Smart Soles are insoles that can be easily installed into the shoes of the person with dementia. They offer satellite monitoring and real-time tracking through the web-based GTX Monitoring Portal or mobile App. You will be able to locate the individual who has wandered immediately, check the battery, speed and bearing, and generate reports.

They fit most men’s and women’s shoes, ranging from sizes 4-14, and are water resistant with anti-friction fabric that wicks moisture away from the foot. Powered by a 3.7V Li-ion rechargeable battery that lasts 2-3 days there is no ON/OFF switch, so they are always ready. There is, however, a motion sensor (sleep mode) to provide maximum battery efficiency.

On top of that, they can be programmed to alert multiple carers or family members via text, email or the app, when the battery is running low or if the person has wandered outside of the pre-set geozone. It comes with a helpful Quick Start Guide to assist set-up.

 

The iPad app
The iPad app

Key Features:

- Discreet and comfortable GPS insoles
- Fit most men’s and women’s shoes, sizes 4-14
- Water resistant, anti-friction fabric wicks water away from foot
- Trackable through the web-based GTX Monitoring Portal or mobile App
- Locate on demand, check battery, speed and bearing, and generate reports
- Custom alerts such as low battery, and notification of a geozone breach can be sent to
multiple carers or family members (covered under monthly portal service plan) via app, text or email
- Wireless inductive charging, 3.7 V Li-ion rechargeable battery lasts up to 2-3 days
- Motion sensor (sleep mode) maximizes battery efficiency
- No ON/OFF switch, always ready
- Can update location every 5, 10, 30, 60+ minutes, depending on the service plan
- Quad band GSM/GPRS module coverage across 200+ GSM networks (localized Int’l SIMs supported)
- Lasts approx. 12 months

Click here to buy the GTX SmartSole insoles.