Shoes with embedded GPS to go on sale in US

17 months ago we flagged up (via Laurie Orlov) the development of shoes with built-in GPS tracking for people with dementia. [Coming soon: GPS Shoes TA May 2010] but now, according to a Gizmag item they have received FDA approval and are to go on sale in the US next month. Where Gizmag has picked up the information is a bit of a mystery as I (Ed. Steve) cannot find a reference to this on either the GTX or Aetrex websites. However, there is a link on the GTX site to a NYT article: A Shoe for Wanderers. And that article contains a link to the US Alzheimer’s Association advice for relatives of people who ‘wander’. (PDF download) But, if I may rant for a moment, two things struck me. First, is no one in the US concerned about perpetuating the use of the term ‘wandering’, which implies there is lack of purpose to people’s walking off? And second, I was astonished at some of the advice, such as hiding door handles or painting doors to match the walls – to add to people’s confusion, presumably. The NYT journalist calls them “some apt suggestions”! (Why not just chain them up and be done with it?)

4 thoughts on “Shoes with embedded GPS to go on sale in US

  1. Observations — more — about both the $300 GPS shoe and some reader comments, but also about the mistake of announcing products two years before they are available in a market segment that is desperate for better solutions NOW. Your point is well-taken about ‘wander’ as an accepted term for disappearing without anyone noticing. Of course, the purpose is to leave the premises. The big concern of facilities is the liability (aka lawsuit) resulting from the individual being killed or injured.

  2. According to the Gizmag article, the shoes will be on sale this month. However, for women, how attractive will a trainer style be, especially for the younger cohort? Finally the term ‘wander’ while not perfect (I’d prefer ‘getting lost’ or even ‘confused travel’) is far better than the term used in many facilities–elopement.

  3. I don’t share Steve’s concerns about the term “wandering” – nor for that matter “elopement”. I fancy that most people understand what wandering means when applied to an older person with cognitive impairment – so as long as it is an activity which is allowed through good management and technology (rather than prevented through locked doors or other forms of constraint), I am happy.

    When I first heard about these GPS shoes a few months ago (while preparing the Telecare EPG report on GPS devices), my Occupational Therapist colleagues felt that it was a good idea, provided that the electronics were available in a slipper rather than in a shoe! Subsequently, we have added to our wish list a form of inductive charging for the slippers unit when stored on a mat in the home, and a means of using the kinetic motion due to walking to charge the battery when outside.

    Technically, I have a few concerns at how difficult it might be for the unit to “see” enough satellites while being shielded by the individual’s feet and body. Perhaps a unit inserted into a hat might make more sense from a practical perspective as they would be subject to less obstructions.

    In the future, perhaps GPS devices will become “cool” when they make use of body piercings or tattoos for the antenna!

Comments are closed.