In 2013, Los Angeles-based GTX Corp. made history and won a considerable number of awards for developing a shoe with an embedded GPS device. Today the company is turning its attention to people with Alzheimer's and exploring ways to harness the wearable tracking-chip technology to keep those with cognitive decline safer.
The company's GPS-enabled insoles, aptly named "SmartSoles," can be easily transferred from one pair of shoes to another. They are now being field tested and should be available sometime this summer.
According to the company's website, the need for such a device is increasing. More than 100 million people now require oversight due to some form of memory impairment, a number that is expected to grow to 277 million by 2050. Because people with cognitive decline are at high risk of wandering away from a safe environment, being able to track their exact whereabouts can not only save lives but also reduce the time and resources expended in searching for them.
Using a combination of cellular and satellite technologies, the GPS system in SmartSoles connects to a tracking portal accessible via a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, iPhone or Android device. The insoles also contain a rechargeable battery that lasts up to five days on a single charge.
There are no on/off switches, no wires and no outward sign that a tracking device is in operation. Family members or caregivers can set geographic boundaries and receive an alert on their mobile phone if the individual leaves the designated location.