A miniaturized GPS tracking device embedded inside the sole of a shoe
geared toward people stricken with Alzheimer’s disease is scheduled for
release in the fall.
“A large percentage of older Americans with Alzheimer’s wander
and become lost,” Evan Schwartz, president of Aetrex Worldwide Inc. told
O&P Business News. “This leads to multiple problems
including the potential for death, injury and increased expenses for hospital
stays. The more we talk to caregivers in assisted living facilities or
relatives of loved ones living with the disease, the more we are advised that
keeping track of an older adult with Alzheimer’s is a major concern.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.3 million people have
Alzheimer’s and it is the seventh leading cause of death in the United
States. From 2000 to 2006, Alzheimer’s deaths increased 46.1% due to a
rapidly aging baby boomer generation.
“Taking our Ambulator product, a product we know works for the
elderly and combining it with a small two-way GPS unit can help people be found
if they have become lost or have wandered,” Schwartz said.
The GPS system is embedded in the sole and the antenna is placed on the
counter of the shoe at the heel. This allows the GPS to be fully protected from
the rain and other elements. The GPS system continually tracks the location and
history movement of the wearer, relaying the information to a monitoring center
through cellular networks, according to Schwartz. Authorized individuals will
log-on and have the opportunity to pinpoint the current location of the wearer
on an interactive map, according to gpsshoe.com. Schwartz likens the technology
to leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for others to find.
“Peace of mind is a large part of this and preventing injury or
worse is obviously most important,” Schwartz said.
The October release of the GPS shoe coincides with Alzheimer’s
Awareness Month. As of press time, Aetrex has not set a specific price for the
shoe. Consumers would also be charged a monthly fee for the tracking service.
“There is a cellular aspect to it, the GPS chip will always be
hitting the satellites and sending signals,” he said.
The GPS shoe is made specifically for adults because the current
technology is too big to fit into children’s shoes, Schwartz explained.
“We are applying the technology to adults and as we ramp up and
sell some units, we will be able to make the technology smaller in the hopes
that it can be placed into the children’s shoe or an insole,” he
Schwartz is excited for the release of the GPS shoe, although he does
admit it is unfortunate that there is such a need for his product.
“The numbers are pretty staggering,” Schwartz said.
“Older adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s getting lost has become
more prevalent and more of a problem. But there is something great about being
able to provide a product that has the potential to do some good.” —
by Anthony Calabro
For more information:
- Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s facts and figures.
Aug. 4, 2010.