Can this smart sock technology help people with dementia?

Milbotix’s smart socks – which don’t need to be charged – can monitor wearers’ heart rate and anxiety levels, alerting caregivers before their distress worsens.

A young inventor quit his job and started studying at Bristol University’s robotics lab, so he could help people with dementia. He developed a unique wearable technology for people with dementia: socks.

Why did Zeke Steer quit his job?

The reason was personal: Dr. Zeke Steer’s great-grandmother had dementia and became restless and aggressive. Her sweet nature gave way to lively outbursts, and she even went so far as to say that Steer’s grandmother (her daughter) was stealing from her.

Steer, a British citizen, quit his job as a software engineer in the defense industry and decided to study how wearable technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) could help ease his rear’s symptoms of dementia. -Grandmother.

What did Steer do?

To manage remember her great-grandmother, Kath, as a ‘sweet and sociable’ woman who loved jazz – but dementia had taken her mental faculties dramatically: “Several years after her diagnosis of dementia, she became prone to seizures. aggressiveness that put enormous pressure on my family.

That’s why he decided to look into how wearable technology and AI could help ease his great-grandmother’s symptoms.

While in graduate school, Steer volunteered at a care home for people with dementia run by the St Monica Trust, Garden house in Cote Lane. He learned that his great-grandmother’s behavior was not unique to him.

While volunteering there, Steer came up with the idea for Milbotix – a clothing company he started in February 2020. “I realized my great-grandmother was not a single episode and that distressing behaviors are very common,” he said. Explain.

What are smart socks?

Smart socks look like normal socks; are machine washable and don’t need to be recharged – but they are able to track heart rate, sweat levels and movement which gives feedback on how a person is feeling. The person’s level of anxiety can be monitored by caregivers watching an app that generates data from the socks.

Currently, there are other options for monitoring stress levels by measuring heart rate and sweat, but these wearable devices are wristbands that can stigmatize patients or create more stress for the wearer.

Steer said: “The foot is actually a great place to collect stress data, and socks are a familiar piece of clothing that people wear every day.

“Our research shows that socks can accurately recognize signs of stress, which could really help not only people with dementia and autism, but also their caregivers.”

What do people think of Steer’s work?

“Zeke’s passion was clear from his first day with us and he worked closely with staff, loved ones and residents to better understand the effects and treatment of dementia.

“We were really impressed with the potential of its assisted technology to predict impending unrest and help alert staff to intervene before it escalated into distress behaviors,” said Fran Ashby, Garden Manager. House Care Home.

“Using examples of modern assistive technologies like smart socks can help people with dementia maintain their dignity and achieve better quality outcomes in their daily lives.”

Professor Judith Squires, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, said: “It’s fantastic to see Zeke using the skills he learned with us to improve the well-being of some of those who need it. most needed.

“The groundbreaking research that Zeke has undertaken has the potential to help millions of people live better lives. We hope to see Milbotix thrive.”

How about some facts and figures?

In the UK alone, there will be 1.6million people with dementia, according to the charity Alzheimer’s Society. The charity also says that every three minutes someone will develop dementia. Dementia is thought to cost the country $42.79 billion each year.

On the other hand, autism affects 1% of the UK population, or around 700,000 people, according to the UK government, 15-30% of whom have difficulty communicating their feelings verbally.

“In 2022, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will cost [United States] $321 billion, including $206 billion in combined Medicare and Medicaid payments,” Alzheimer’s Association Remarks. The non-profit organization also claims that more than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and that by 2050, that number is expected to reach almost 13 million.

What are Milbotix’s plans for the future?

Steer is now working on expanding his business. It is testing the socks with people with intermediate to advanced dementia and developing the technology before the socks hit the market next year. Milbotix is ​​expected to begin a funding round later in 2022.

The Alzheimer’s Society Accelerator Program will support Milbotix by helping to fund the development of wearable technology, providing innovation support and helping to test the socks.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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