People with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or autism lose the ability to recognize familiar places, start wandering, and get lost easily. Due to paranoia being a symptom of these illnesses, traditional tracking devices like tags and bracelets are often removed by the wearer.
The GPS SmartSole™ from GTX fits discreetly into the wearer’s shoe, allowing them to be tracked and monitored. It contains a 2-way GPS tracking device that uses cellular networks to send location and alerts if the wearer moves out of a certain area.
Wandering: the numbers and the challenges
Wandering is a serious problem for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, and also affects a lot of children with autism. There are estimated to be 55 million people worldwide living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, while an estimated 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with Autism. 60% of people with dementia will wander at least once, and many will do so on multiple occasions. These figures show clearly how many people across the world are affected by this.
Wandering can be dangerous for the patient as they can get lost or injure themselves. In countries with more extreme climates, the risk of being affected by hypothermia or dehydration also comes into play. Frustratingly, wanderers may not respond to calls, hide from those searching for them, and not be perceived as lost by others.
Younger wanderers are even more vulnerable. Children with autism have a high incidence of running away and are drawn to outdoor environments. Worst case scenarios involve children being drawn to places like pools and lakes, where they can drown, and motorways and train lines where they can get into fatal accidents. Naturally, this places a lot of stress on the families and caregivers of both children and seniors.
We’ve seen with the figures above that there are millions of wanderers across the world, putting themselves in danger and causing a lot of stress to their caregivers. In fact, the NYPD alone spends millions of dollars per year tracking missing people. How can we keep track of them when they go missing? Or even better, can we be alerted when they start wandering?
Monitoring products such as wristbands, pendants, and ankle bracelets have been deployed with limited success. As confusion and paranoia are the primary symptoms of these conditions, sufferers often remove objects placed on them with which they are unfamiliar, rendering them useless. Furthermore, these devices are clearly visible and can draw unwanted attention.
The GPS SmartSole from GTX: Track your Patients with Dignity
That’s where the award-winning GPS SmartSole, developed by GTX, comes in. Developed in 2014, it is sold in over 35 countries around the world. As well as being used in U.S. nursing homes, by the British NHS, and other national care agencies across Europe, it is supported by local Alzheimer Associations and multiple Police, Search & Rescue organizations.
Taking the form of shoe soles, they can be slipped discreetly into the patient’s shoes. Surveys indicate most do not notice the GPS SmartSole in their shoe and therefore the desire to remove it is taken away, meaning caregivers, parents and spouses are able to monitor their potential wanderers. Furthermore, the hidden element reduces stigmatization and preserves the dignity of the patient.
The GPS SmartSole uses a two-way GPS tracking device that leverages the power of cellular networks to track the wearer. Multiple caregivers can simultaneously monitor the location of the wearer using an app or online viewing portal. Wandering can even be prevented in its early stages, thanks to the ability to set boundaries called Geozones. Email or text alerts will be sent if the wearer crosses these boundaries.
GPS devices have traditionally struggled to send signals through the water-based human body, posing a unique challenge to a device located under the foot. The GPS SmartSole ingeniously uses the floor as a reflector to strengthen the signals sent and received by the GPS device. The SmartSole is able to withstand the incredible pressure placed on it by the human body, while the lithium batteries last up to 4 days and use inductive charging. To top it off, the SmartSole is sealed and water resistant, enabling it to survive wet weather and the humid environment of the inside of the shoe.
Connectivity without the complexity from Pod Group
The GPS SmartSole contains the ENO ONE eSIM (eUICC) from Pod Group, in the form of an embedded chip inserted into a device in the sole to grant the highest hardware robustness. It offers global coverage over different technologies, like 4G/LTE, CAT-M, and LTE-M, with GTX able to tap into the low-power cellular options in order to give the SmartSole’s battery the highest endurance. The eSIM’s ability to roam across multiple networks grants the device the broadest available cellular coverage.
Importantly for applications such as this, where the devices are being used by consumers for a mission-critical purpose, the ENO ONE SIM can be updated Over The Air (OTA) meaning that networks can be swapped remotely using a centralized platform, ensuring that the optimum connectivity options are available at all times.
With Pod Group offering access to its global network, covering 185 countries, GTX no longer have to worry about dealing with different providers in different countries; instead, they manage their connectivity via one pane of glass and one contract allowing access to providers the world over for no extra effort. As providers of their GPS SmartSole solution in over 35 countries worldwide, it was easy for GTX to pick Pod Group as their connectivity partner.
Not only connectivity, but also global deployment is made simple and hassle-free with Pod Group. This was absolutely vital for GTX, who ships the GPS SmartSole across the world. Every ENO eSIM contains pre-configured with a bootstrap profile, meaning GTX no longer has to manually configure each device for their destination. The eSIM is also provided on a neutral Remote SIM Provisioning (RSP) platform. GTX owns the eSIM and is not locked into one vendor. On-SIM applets like Zero-Touch Provisioning mean that upon booting up, the device automatically connects to the nearest network and downloads a dedicated local profile.
Pod Group’s acquisition in July 2021 by Giesecke+Devrient (G+D), inventors of the SIM and leaders in eSIM management, mean Pod Group is able to leverage their expertise to provide GTX with a simple platform to manage their device connectivity and networks. Using this centralized platform, SIMs can be updated remotely for increased performance or roaming cost-efficiency, while G+D’s eSIM technology grants the highest data security to ensure patient privacy.
The Evolution of the SmartSole and Future Applications
As well as providing the technology to empower family and caregiver monitoring of vulnerable wanderers, there are many more applications of GTX technology to come in the near future, powered by Pod Group’s ENO ONE solution. In years to come, the GPS SmartSole may be able to connect to private cellular networks with ease. As technology advances, smaller and cheaper devices will be built, allowing them to be attached to different parts of the body.
Today the GPS SmartSole can track a wearer’s location. Tomorrow it will collect health data in order to identify patterns and predict outcomes before they happen. Such a device could identify rapid weight gain, allowing caregivers to take steps to prevent obesity. A PE teacher could monitor the oxygen levels of an asthmatic student. The possibilities are endless, and the preventative care and cost-saving benefits for real-time health data monitoring will save lives and thousands on medical bills.
“Pod is proud to play a crucial role in contributing to improving peoples’ quality of life and safety around the world” says Pod Group’s Director for PLTE/5G Private Network Proposition & Strategic Partnership Development, Alessio Piussi. “This is a clear example of how ENO ONE can help reduce the complexity of rolling out global, mission critical IoT applications, providing cost effective, reliable and future-proofed connectivity.”
“A reliable, global network service is extremely important for our customers where sometimes people’s lives might be on the line. We are excited to team up with Pod Group to provide this service with our products” says Andrew Duncan Director GTX Corp. “We look forward to developing a mutually beneficial relationship as we roll out our wellness and lifesaving products across the world.”