Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

GPS Shoes For Alzheimer's Patients

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the grandma-catching dept.

Medicine 116

A shoe-maker, Aetrex Worldwide, and GTX Corp, a company that makes miniaturized Global Positioning Satellite tracking and location-transmitting devices, are teaming up to make shoes for people suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. "The technology will provide the location of the individual wearing the shoes within 9m (30 feet), anywhere on the planet. Sixty per cent of individuals afflicted with Alzheimer's Disease will be involved in a 'critical wandering incident' at least once during the progression of the disease — many more than once," said Andrew Carle, an assistant professor at George Mason University who served as an advisor on the project. Not only will this technology allow a caretaker to find a loved one with a click of a mouse, but the shoes are more humanizing than a bell hung around the neck.

cancel ×

116 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Oh (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 5 years ago | (#28269969)

Like they'll remember to put on their shoes...

Re:Oh (3, Informative)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 5 years ago | (#28269985)

Exactly, my grandma who was Alzheimer's was notorious for doing just that walking around the assisted living facility in nothing but her underwear, tough deal Alzheimer's is...

Re:Oh (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270211)

my grandma who was Alzheimer's was notorious for doing just that walking around the assisted living facility in nothing but her underwear

It could be worse. I know, I've seen her without it.

Re:Oh (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28270299)

pics or it didn't happen.

Re:Oh (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270431)

Dignity FAIL.

Re:Oh (1)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270525)

You seem to be looking for dignity in the wrong place. This is the Internet. We don't do dignity.

Re:Oh (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28271705)

You seem to be looking for dignity in the wrong place. This is the Internet. We don't do dignity.

Indeed. Furthermore, I hereby invoke Rule 34. Any moment now, an AC is going to post some fresh and delicious Alzheimer's granny poon... And there's not a goddamn thing anyone can do about it.

Re:Oh (1)

linustorvaldsisaturd (1573171) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270573)

Exactly, my grandma who was Alzheimer's was notorious for doing just that walking around the assisted living facility in nothing but her underwear, tough deal Alzheimer's is...

And unfortunately those of us working in that facility had to see the horror that was your grandma's gray-haired bush bursting out of her underwear.

Re:Oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28271733)

You're thinking of the wrong grandma. His is the one with the racing stripe. Or maybe you're confusing her nipple hair with bush hair. Her boobs do hang pretty low and she lactates Malt o' Milk.

Re:Oh (4, Interesting)

timholman (71886) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270265)

Like they'll remember to put on their shoes...

Interesting that you should say that. My father-in-law suffered from dementia before he died, and he was paranoid that someone was going to take his shoes from him. He was constantly looking for them if he wasn't wearing them. The strange thing is that his father also suffered from dementia, and had the same obsession about shoes before his death.

So I think the folks at GTX Corporation are on to something. Even if people with dementia wander off, most of them are probably going to remember to put their shoes on first.

Re:Oh (1)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270341)

I dunno, dementia from what I've seen is a more complex disease of the brain. Referene where I talked about my grandma above. She'd be just as likely to put her shoes on as she'd be likely to put her shoes in the refrigerator (I remember her doing that once)....

Re:Oh (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 5 years ago | (#28271843)

I am guessing he was institutionalized. In there, that is exactly what they do... take your shoes. The floor is always cold. If you somehow manage to keep your shoes, you need to guard them with your life, because once they know you have them, they will come and take them away.

Re:Oh (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28271861)

So I think the folks at GTX Corporation are on to something. Even if people with dementia wander off, most of them are probably going to remember to put their shoes on first.

If they are paranoid, won't they notice that their shoes have suddenly started blinking and beeping and that they have grown antennas?

Re:Oh (1)

elvesrus (71218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273865)

The fun part is 2 dementia patients having a conversation. Every couple minutes someone comes back with a "Hi, how are you today". Sometimes said activity can go on for hours.

In my defense, my grandmother had dementia, and I had witnessed this first hand.

Re:Oh (1)

EkriirkE (1075937) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270971)

this should be modded insightful. Stray alz patients often forgo necessary gear when trekking

Re:Oh (1)

Scragglykat (1185337) | more than 5 years ago | (#28271271)

Perhaps a chip could be installed in the patient instead, as they aren't likely to leave without themselves unless they are really out of it.

No, this is seriously useful! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28273665)

Following her doctor prescription for Alzheimer, grandma started walking at 62, slowly first, then faster and faster.

Now she's 97 and we don't have the slightest idea where she is...

That's how they track you (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270025)

in Nakatomi Plaza. If you're inside when it's taken over by terrorists, make sure you take off your shoes so they can't track you.

Re:That's how they track you (1)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270067)

I followed your advice and cut my feet to shreds on broken glass. Not being a superhero, I am now unable to walk and and am a sitting duck for the terrorists. Thanks a lot oodaloop.

Re:That's how they track you (1)

GameMaster (148118) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270159)

Silly, you don't need to be a superhero in order to be able to walk around on broken glass, you just need to be a masochist.

Re:That's how they track you (1)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270193)

Don't worry, after a heart to heart talk on the walkie talkie with that cop who used to be on Family Matters, you'll be able to get up and save the day. Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.

Re:That's how they track you (1)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270761)

Hey hey hey, that's Sgt. Al Powell from the LAPD. Show a little respect.

Re:That's how they track you (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270881)

The way he drives, I thought he was Stevie Wonder.

But when they get on a plane. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28271751)

Speaking of terrorists...

This should get interesting for the Alzheimer's patients when they try to get on a plane and the TSA thinks they are wearing shoe bombs.

And can you imagine the poor Alzheimer's patient in the security isolation room trying to explain what's with the electronics in the shoe?

Re:But when they get on a plane. (3, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273265)

I just have one question for you. Why do you hate America?

critical (4, Funny)

nimbius (983462) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270099)

wandering incident?! who was the marketing genius that made it sound like a particle physics event??

Re:critical (5, Insightful)

MaXintosh (159753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270207)

Critical means "Having the Potential to become Disastrous." And when Alzheimer's patients wander, it has just that potential. People who suffer from the condition can become easily lost, confused, and aren't likely to seek out help. In some cases, they can be belligerent, and combative toward people who do want to help. This puts them in direct danger. A humane way of tracking them in the event of these incidents helps empower people, and might allow people to keep lovedones with the condition at home, as opposed to in assisted care where oversight is tighter and they're less liable to wander off and get in this danger. "Critical Wandering Incident" is a good way to describe it, in my opinion.

Re:critical (4, Interesting)

dr_wheel (671305) | more than 5 years ago | (#28271451)

Well I happen to agree with the OP. George Carlin said it best with his rant on 'shell shock':

"I don't like words that hide the truth. I don't words that conceal reality. I don't like euphemisms, or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms. Cause Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent the kind of a soft language to protest themselves from it, and it gets worse with every generation. For some reason, it just keeps getting worse. I'll give you an example of that. There's a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It's when a fighting person's nervous system has been stressed to it's absolute peak and maximum. Can't take anymore input. The nervous system has either (click) snapped or is about to snap. In the first world war, that condition was called shell shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables, shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was seventy years ago. Then a whole generation went by and the second world war came along and very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn't seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock! Battle fatigue. Then we had the war in Korea, 1950. Madison avenue was riding high by that time, and the very same combat condition was called operational exhaustion. Hey, were up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It's totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car. Then of course, came the war in Vietnam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years, and thanks to the lies and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it's no surprise that the very same condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder. Still eight syllables, but we've added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder. I'll bet you if we'd of still been calling it shell shock, some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I'll betcha."

Re:critical (1)

MaXintosh (159753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273213)

I don't know, "wandered off" doesn't really sound so bad... Almost peacefull, eh? If you have a better phrase to communicate how bad a situation, I'd be interested, but otherwise, point taken.

Re:critical (1)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274307)

I agree with the gist of the parent post. However, does 'shell shock' really apply well to broader definitions (say... rape victims)? PTSD is dehumanizing, I agree, but it's accurate.

Being able to communicate concisely is important too. Saying the equivalent of "oogah boogah" doesn't translate well when everyone else is saying "boo".

If you want a word that fits the description better, make it up! English is a flexible language, it's not set in stone.

Re:critical (1, Troll)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270585)

wandering incident?! who was the marketing genius that made it sound like a particle physics event??

I don't think anyone is marketing "wandering incidents." Also, seeing as alzheimers predates particle physics, and is probably more commonly discussed than particle physics, I'd have to ask instead what idiot physicist made a particle physics event sound like an alzheimers patient wandering off.

(If you were going for humor, you appear to have had your own wandering incident)

Re:critical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28270873)

I think this is the first time I forwarded a slashdot article to Mother in regards to my Stepfather's Father.

I dont understand why so many people laugh and joke ok slashdot has that High School mentality to it but if you have ever known or seen anyone afflicted by alzheimers (the really serious cases) its not that funny. They break out and cant be found for days. And when they are found its not funny.

Even though the idea isnt the newest or a technical advance , in theory this is one way technology can help those with medical problems and those that need care.

Other Uses (3, Interesting)

schrodingers_rabbit (1565471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270101)

It would be helpful for the patient to be able to use the shoe GPS themselves. My relatives with Alzheimers often forget where they are or where they are going, or how to get there. A small screen similar to car GPS systems could use the shoe to help the patients find their way around. On a different note, where can I get one of these for my sister?

Re:Other Uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28270335)

It would be helpful for the patient to be able to use the shoe GPS themselves. My relatives with Alzheimers often forget where they are or where they are going, or how to get there. A small screen similar to car GPS systems could use the shoe to help the patients find their way around. On a different note, where can I get one of these for my sister?

I can just imagine the ongoing, never ending rant you will have to hear if you get your older relatives a GPS.

Relative: "I can't get this doohicky to work.
I think it's broken. Why is that light blinking? I think it's broken. I'm going to the store to get a map." 15 minutes later... "Why are we at the store? I need some milk. I can't get this doohicky to work."

As for your sister...just know she'll be at my place.

Re:Other Uses (1)

orngjce223 (1505655) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270627)

I think a little pod with a touchscreen, bearing buttons for "Store", "Home", "Visiting Susie", etc. which would stay highlighted when one pressed them (and show when you pressed them), just-press-them-again-to-deactivate would work. Heck, it could be an iPhone app...

Re:Other Uses (1)

clampolo (1159617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28271133)

No problems about wandering with your ideas. With the hundreds of pounds of gear you want attached to their shoes, they won't be able to move their feet and will be trapped.

Re:Other Uses (1)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270973)

You could set it up to activate when they click their heels 3 times.

Oh Good! (2, Funny)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270103)

I was wondering if I'd watered the plants or not.

Re:Oh Good! (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270155)

Well, it's not available yet. Have a little patience.

I lost my shoe :( (0, Redundant)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270141)

And I don't know where I am...

Re:I lost my shoe :( (2, Funny)

Camann (1486759) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270401)

Here, have a cowbell. Since that's the only apparent alternative.

If the shoe fits, wear it. (1)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270143)

This technology will go much farther than intended...

Parents who want to track "problem" children
Husband/Wife who wants to know where you really were last night
And for the random person who really wants to know how lost he got himself...

This technology won't become ubiquitous, but it'll certainly be fun to abuse.

No shit (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28270485)

Just week or two ago there was a story on slashdot about some parent whose son had taken the wrong bus home from school and got lost so he asked slashdot ways to track his child with GPS...

So I belive that what you described will happen very soon.

Re:No shit (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 5 years ago | (#28271969)

Just week or two ago there was a story on slashdot about some parent whose son had taken the wrong bus home from school and got lost so he asked slashdot ways to track his child with GPS...

So I belive that what you described will happen very soon.

Makes less sense for kids, though. They grow out of clothing FAST. I'm not arguing that the erosion of personal privacy's not going to accelerate, but I don't think it'll take the form of something wearable. Sewable into clothing, maybe, but not as clothing.

IMHO, it'll be more likely built into (either directly or as a 3rd party addon) the cell phone/mp3 player/portable game unit the kid already lugs around. Anyone too young for that, it'll still be something installable onto something else.

Re:No shit (1)

Incadenza (560402) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272719)

GPS is already used for tracking birds. I just read they use a 14 grams GPS receiver + radio transmitter + solar cell combination [volkskrant.nl] that lasts over a year. If you can attach it to a bird, there will be ample space to attach it to a kid.

Re:No shit (1)

Incadenza (560402) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272759)

It would have been helpful if I had linked to the pigeon English translation [google.com] .

Is this really the best solution? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270161)

Of course they could always take their shoes off. Wouldn't it be much better to prevent them from wandering off in the first place? I know of a great piece of technology that quite effectively keeps them where they can be found. It's called a "leash", and it works pretty well -- at least on my dog! Alzheimer's patients would even be much easier than my dog to train not to wrap it around posts, too!

Re:Is this really the best solution? (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273337)

Putting leashes on people gets you in trouble around here.
I use this nifty combination of technologies called a fence, gate, and lock.
She can wander in the front yard, putter around in the back in the garden, but can not leave without going through the main house. (She has her own cottage in the back, ~400 Sq Ft studio).
-nB

Pants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28270165)

Wearable electronics is pants

Re:Pants (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270799)

I'm not wearing any pants, you insensitive clod!

why "for Alzheimer's patients"? (3, Insightful)

panthroman (1415081) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270187)

GPS shoes could track... anyone wearing the shoes. Wandering children [slashdot.org] , suspicious spouses, prisoners, whomever you want.

Am I missing something, or is this story less "new tech" and more "we finally found a relatively non-controversial market." Congrats for the shareholders, but hardly newsworthy.

Re:why "for Alzheimer's patients"? (1)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28271497)

Well, yeah, but how would you be able to get kids or spouses to wear old people shoes? [blogspot.com]

As someone who works with the affected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28270195)

As long as you can get them to put on and keep on their shoes, this will work great. Might work even better if implanted into their ankle bracelet... as long as they don't ask a kind stranger for a pair of scissors to cut it off.

Keep them from wandering away in the first place (5, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270231)

Personally I find this [telegraph.co.uk] solution to be ingenious and hilarious at the same time.

Re:Keep them from wandering away in the first plac (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270607)

Which was a plot element in the animated movie Harvie Krumpet [harviekrumpet.com] from 2003.

Re:Keep them from wandering away in the first plac (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 5 years ago | (#28271767)

Another technique I've heard of is painting a big black rectangle in front of the exit doors - like a big pit.

The patients will not cross it, but everybody else will walk right over it.

I've had the misfortune of watching a loved one descend through the hell that is Alzheimer's, and watched what that did to rest of the family. To the various humor-impaired slashbots: it's about as funny as having your testicles sucked out of your scrotum with a shopvac - that is, hilarious in the abstract, until you have to experience it personally.

But is it better than a marker? (1, Insightful)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270247)

How about this: We modify Grandma's shoes with a Sharpie to say "My home number is 555-1234" (or whatever for the nursing home). I have a hard time believing that the marker idea isn't better than a shoe that will likely cost hundreds to thousands of dollars ( old people often need custom orthopedics)and a cellular/GPRS/SMS/whatever subscritpion to report the information. Both solutions assume that the altzheimer's patient will remember to put their shoes on before they go walking...

Re:But is it better than a marker? (1)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270575)

Really, the simple solution would be to tattoo somewhere visibly "if you see me out of my home, I'm lost, call 555-555-1234 please." Could be a problem if a more sane relative is taking her out someplace though "But officer this is my Grandma!"

Re:But is it better than a marker? (3, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270623)

We modify Grandma's shoes with a Sharpie to say "My home number is 555-1234" (or whatever for the nursing home).

Not much help for people searching for her is that? Nor is it much help for those who find her since the shoe is an extremely unlikely place to look for a phone number or other form of ID.
 
 

I have a hard time believing that the marker idea isn't better than a shoe that will likely cost hundreds to thousands of dollars ( old people often need custom orthopedics)and a cellular/GPRS/SMS/whatever subscritpion to report the information.

If they already need orthopedic shoes, then adding a GPS to them won't increase the cost much.
 
 

Both solutions assume that the altzheimer's patient will remember to put their shoes on before they go walking...

Ambulatory patients are generally dressed and undressed by the caregiver. The patient has no need to remember to put the shoes on. (At night, when the shoes aren't being worn, a wanderer in night clothes is far more likely to be noticed by security while leaving, or wandering down the street.)

Re:But is it better than a marker? (1)

aardwolf64 (160070) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272057)

I have a hard time believing that the marker idea isn't better than a shoe that will likely cost hundreds to thousands of dollars ( old people often need custom orthopedics)and a cellular/GPRS/SMS/whatever subscritpion to report the information.

If they already need orthopedic shoes, then adding a GPS to them won't increase the cost much.

Why? Is there some kind of GPS coupon program for orthopedic shoe wearers that I'm unaware of?

Re:But is it better than a marker? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272291)

A GPS unit of the type described will likely come in at under $150 or so.

I call bullshit (3, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270263)

The technology will provide the location of the individual wearing the shoes within 9m (30 feet), anywhere on the planet.

Just as long as they are not in a tunnel, inside a large building, in a canyon, or have any other obstacles around them that block signal from the GPS or block the signal that this device transmits, of course! Why do marketers continue to insist that GPS is some kind of magic technology that works everywhere, and ignore the limitations of technology? This probably won't even work inside some of the nursing homes where Alzheimer's patients normally reside!

Re:I call bullshit (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28270393)

If they are inside a building, or elsewhere that the GPS signal is disrupted, then they probably will be easy to find. You know they haven't left.

If they walk out of their facility/home/etc, then the system probably will have a last known position of sorts. That way, you can at least have a pretty good idea what building they went into and then begin your search there.

Having a last known location is a lot better than having no clue at all, I would think.

Re:I call bullshit (1)

lazyforker (957705) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270553)

The technology will provide the location of the individual wearing the shoes within 9m (30 feet), anywhere on the planet. Just as long as they are not in a tunnel, inside a large building, in a canyon, or have any other obstacles around them that block signal from the GPS or block the signal that this device transmits, of course! Why do marketers continue to insist that GPS is some kind of magic technology that works everywhere, and ignore the limitations of technology? This probably won't even work inside some of the nursing homes where Alzheimer's patients normally reside!

Plus they might wander off in their slippers, barefoot, in someone else's shoes etc... My grandmother (who had Alzeheimer's) regularly went for long walks in her slippers, nightie and robe. Luckily she had lived in a small village for almost 50 years - and everyone who found her knew who she was. Giving her GPS shoes would have been a waste of money and time.

Working as intended (2, Informative)

kindbud (90044) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270583)

This probably won't even work inside some of the nursing homes where Alzheimer's patients normally reside!

This is for patients who wander off due to their diminished mental capacity. If they are inside the nursing home, they haven't wandered off and tracking isn't needed.

Re:I call bullshit (2, Insightful)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270849)

Who said this was infallible?
Anyone with a little commence sense realizes the shoes would be helpful in many cases, like during a trip to the zoo or to visit their family.

It also makes is more reasonable for a family to care for their relative than to send them to a nursing home.

Re:I call bullshit (1)

Falconhell (1289630) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273275)

I have to say that the recent generation GPS I have
are much better at getting a lock.
Newer units(IPAQ 312/Leadtek BT) can get a signal in my flat (Apartment for the USAians) where my Garmin 72 and others would not. They seem to get lock a lot faster too.

I use them quite a bit to drive PDA flight software
for sailplanes. Using the excellent open source program XCSoar, is better than most commercial offerings!

Re:I call bullshit (1)

MDMurphy (208495) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273485)

Yeah, they always gloss over any difficult aspects:

* How do you get them to always wear the GPS shoes when leaving?
* How do you get them to keep the batteries charged?
* How do you get them to not step in puddles?
* GPS may work anywhere on the planet, but most communication links for sending the location information back has a much smaller usable footprint. A sat phone might work more places, but it's going to need a bigger battery and be more finicky.
* If it was a mobile phone / GPS combination it wouldn't be too tough to have it send SMS messages to a list of people when the geofence was crossed. More likely though is some middleman wanting to charge $50 a month to "monitor" the GPS.(What? $50 is too much for pay to help your loved one?)

I have what looked like a thumb drive that's a EVDO modem with built in GPS. So small and powerful is the easy part. The logistics of power, visibitily and getting the befuddled user to always use it are the hard parts. They never mention the hard parts.

Re:I call bullshit (1)

Bartab (233395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274621)

* How do you get them to always wear the GPS shoes when leaving?

It depends on how far they regress, but many alzheimer's patients will dress themselves when having an "episode". Perhaps believing they are going to work, school, or shopping, etc. Each patient is different though, and some might just wander off in their house slippers that they're wearing at the home. Obviously, this solution won't work for them. It will for some.

This is great and all.... (1)

Shooter28 (1564631) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270279)

...but the satellites that make up GPS are pretty outdated and falling apart. Unless someone forks over the money for new satellites we can say goodbye to GPS in a year or two.

Re:This is great and all.... (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270381)

Aren't the government and military getting some pretty hefty use out of it too? I have a feeling we'll all be forking over the money for upkeep by way of tax dollars if faced with the prospect of not having it anymore.

Re:This is great and all.... (1)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270649)

Yeah at this point GPS is so widely used nobody is letting it just go away I'm sure.

Even assuming the government just upgraded to something better and decided to abandon GPS, I'm sure the private industry likely consisting of a consortium of GPS device makers (TomTom, Magellan, Garmin, etc.) would try to step in and launch replacement satellites.

Re:This is great and all.... (2, Insightful)

L3370 (1421413) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270565)

I believe there are more than enough interested parties to keep our GPS satellites up and running. Goverments of numerous countries make use of this ttechnology. Many commercial organizations profit from this technology as well. As long as there is someone that is able to make money off of this I'm sure funding will be available as well... Where did you get this statistic of GPS failing in less than 2 years?

Overstating the case. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28271921)

...but the satellites that make up GPS are pretty outdated and falling apart. Unless someone forks over the money for new satellites we can say goodbye to GPS in a year or two.

That's overstating the case.

Some of the satellites are getting old and may break down before replacements are installed. Maybe. If they do the resolution of the system may intermittently drop or the system may intermittently fail in some areas when too few working satellites are currently in view. But it will be a "goes out temporarily, occasionally" situation, as others come by in their orbits and things start working well again.

GPS (especially differential GPS, with ground-based correction transmitters) is currently used for a lot of important stuff - including navigating cargo ships into ports in the fog. If/when it starts to get occasionally flakey there will be a lot of constituency pushing for it to be fixed up before more satellites go out and the flaked-out periods become more common. Especially since some of the alternatives have been decommissioned due to GPS doing a better job.

The adventurous Alzheimer (3, Funny)

sls1j (580823) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270309)

And for those adventurous Alzheimer patients who want a 'critical wandering incident' Achme is now offering tinfoil shoe coverings.

--Achme Sales Rep.

Re:The adventurous Alzheimer (1)

Falconhell (1289630) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273297)

Achme, some kind of Moslem version of ACME? (-:

Don't work inside buildings (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270367)

So if the person wanders off in a mall, or airport, or office building these shoes are precisely useless.

Plus, of course, the obvious observation for Alzheimer's sufferers - will they remember their shoes contain GPS locators?

Now under development... (3, Funny)

serutan (259622) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270399)

A device for forcing Alzheimer's patients to keep their shoes on.

what usually happens (1)

Spacepup (695354) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270535)

I don't think it ocured to them that many alzheimer and dementia patients like to strip down to their shiny birthday suits. Last I checked, shiny birthday suits don't generally include shoes.

will it work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28270557)

Not sure if it would work. A lot of alzheimer patients so their wandering barefooted. They forget they need shoes!!!

Hi-tech solutions to low-tech problems (2, Interesting)

ReallyEvilCanine (991886) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270643)

It has an occasional use but for the price of a couple of pairs of shoes (and don't forget the recurring monitoring fees/costs) there's a much easier solution [telegraph.co.uk] which has been highly effective.

Where's grandpa? (1)

tippe (1136385) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270667)

[guy #1]: Looks like grandpa has wandered off again. Check the GeriatriFinder3000.com website to see where he's gone to.
[guy #2]: Yeah, sure thing.
[guy #2]: It looks like he's located off of 17th near bordello st.
[guy #2]: I don't get why his locater dot is vibrating erratically on the screen like that, though. Strange.
[guy #1]: Let me see that...
[guy #2]: Say, isn't 17th & bordello right in the middle of the brothel district?
[guy #1]: ?!?!!
[guy #2]: I'm sure it's only coincidental...

I'll be damned first. (1)

ITIL Prince (968673) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270693)

This is a huge legal liability and invasion of privacy. You would have to keep the presence of the GPS feature hidden from the patient. Alzheimer's patients that do run away often experience paranoia. If they knew about the tracking device, they'd deliberately take off the shoes. They're not stupid, they're brain damaged. My mother was quite crafty for a while there, and when she got mean-spirited, you really needed to watch your step. If she had run, we'd probably not have found her in time. So, to be effective, this has to be involuntary. My mother is dead now, but there is no way I would ever "tag" her like this. What an indignity to have Alzheimer's in the first place. I'll be damned if I'm going to heap on another one with a wildlife tracking mechanism. We should just say no, with our lack of dollars for these jerks.

Oblig. Red Dwarf Quote (4, Funny)

Altus (1034) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270763)

Lister: Sometimes, I think it's cruel giving machines a personality. My mate Petersen once bought a pair of shoes with Artificial Intelligence. 'Smart Shoes' they were called. It was a neat idea. No matter how blind drunk you were, they could always get you home. But he got rattled one night in Oslo and woke up the next morning in Burma. You see, his shoes got bored going from his local to his flat. They wanted to see the world, you know. He had a hell of a job getting rid of them. No matter who he sold them to, they'd show up again the next day. He tried to shut them out, but they just kicked the door down.

Rimmer: Is this true?
Lister: Yeah. The last thing I heard, they sort of... robbed a car and drove it into a canal. They couldn't steer, you see.

Rimmer: Really?

Lister: Yeah. Petersen was really, really blown away about it. He went to see a priest. The priest told him... he said it was alright and all that, when shoes are happy that they'd get into heaven. You see, it turns out shoes have 'soles'.

Rimmer: Ah, what a sad story. Wait a minute.
[Thinks for a minute]
Rimmer: How did they open the car door?

Aren't there child trackers already? (1)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270871)

Aren't there GPS child trackers already available? If you were worried about an Alzheimer's patient, couldn't you just strap one of those to the person's wrist? I presume you can get them with bands that prevent easy removal, or could retrofit one.

good try (1)

BigJClark (1226554) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270967)


And the effort is appreciated, but my grandfather-in-law is in his latter stages of the disease, and he always wanders off without his shoes, different peoples' glasses, without a shirt. Its incredibly dangerous in the winter months here.

I'm afraid I believe this idea will not catch hold.

Hollywood's new hit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28271001)

Dude, where's my shoe?!

If I'm ever that senile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28271053)

If I ever lose my mind like that, just let me die.

Power? (1)

amigabill (146897) | more than 5 years ago | (#28271137)

So, assuming batteries so these people aren't dragging around a long extension cord, how are you going to get someone that doesn't know where they are etc. to remember and charge the batteries every night?

Re:Power? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28273749)

The extension cord would probably work better - you wouldn't need GPS then. You could just follow the extension cord to grandma.

finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28271175)

a simple way for me to find my shoes in the morning. why didn't I think of this before?

Re:finally (1)

Falconhell (1289630) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273333)

Yeh, but I would rather have GPS enabled socks.

At least then I would know where the buggers get to when they disappear.

I suspect there is a planet somewhere entirely populated by socks.

If i ever find it I could open a very successful second hand sock business.

Interesting (1)

lavacano201014 (999580) | more than 5 years ago | (#28271211)

This brings up a great point, you see...uh...I forgot what I was going to say.

More humanizing than a bell? (1)

bzzfzz (1542813) | more than 5 years ago | (#28271263)

Less obvious than a bell though probably not "more humanizing." The loss of liberties has historically started with the powerless. Prisoners, the sick, the mentally ill. Then the military and the working class people. You're next.

The World's Stupidest Idea: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28271739)

I'm going to lie down for a nap now. I think I'll take my shoes off.

Four hours later. I 'm going to visit the son and the kids.

Hi , son! How you been?

Son: Dad , why the bloody feet.

Dad: I'd walk 10 miles to see you , son!

Dumb. Very F*&king dumb !!

I said boo-erns! (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 5 years ago | (#28271845)

n/t

Wouldn't work for my grandma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28272381)

My grandmother spend the last year of her life in assisted living. Her first night in the facility, at 0030, she escaped.

The outside doors were equipped with electromagnetic locks to keep the residents from escaping, however, to comply with life safety codes, leaning on a door for 30 seconds continuously would sound an exit alarm and release the lock.

She figured that out. The staff heard the alarm and stopped her about 50 feet out the door. She repeated it the next night. Her room windows were locked with bayonet pins, however, most single-hung windows require more strength to open than most Alzheimer's patients could probably apply to lifting a window.

When she lived at home, she wandered out of the house and made it a whole block--she walked to the police station "looking for her father", they called Grandpa, and he went to get her.

Needs more options.... (1)

motherpusbucket (1487695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273879)

I also want Bluetooth, IPOD connectivity, and a DVD player. Until then, I'm sticking with my boots with the 8-track built in the left one and a compass in the right.

Simple in theory--difficult in practice (1)

John Murdoch (102085) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274067)

I did a bunch of work for a dot-com startup in the early 2000s focusing on vehicle-tracking applications. I have a daughter with Down syndrome; Downs kids tend to wander too, so we looked at this issue quite hard. The good news: the technology is pretty straightforward. The bad news: that's about the only good news.

Batteries
A GPS chipset enables a controller embedded in the shoes (or on a device strapped to the person) to know where it is. The second half of the problem is to transmit your location to somebody else. The simplest and cheapest approach is sending the data via the cell phone system--eight years ago we were using the digital control channels of the AMPS (analog) cell system; today you'd use G3. But think of the problems you have keeping your cell phone charged--how often would you recharge the batteries in your patient's (or your child's) shoes?

GPS
GPS is a really cool technology--but it is frequently viewed as the high-tech cure for what ails ya. It is not perfect. In particular, GPS depends upon an extremely weak signal--the GPS chipsets use DSPs to dig the signal out of the ether. GPS chipsets lose "lock" all the time. If the patient is wandering around outside in plain sight, his GPS coordinates are going to be accurate. But when the chipset loses "lock" on the satellites, tracking devices will continue to report the last known good position. This can be disastrous: the patient wanders from a nursing facility out onto the public street--and gets on a bus. Inside that nice, big aluminum box he can ride all the way downtown--and his GPS-enabled sneakers will continue to report that he's out in the nursing home parking lot.

There's a serious challenge to solving problems with technology--you also have to make sure that the people who depend upon that technology know (and act on the knowledge) that it must be maintained, or it will fail. Consider, for just a moment, how many people die of smoke inhalation every year even though they have smoke detectors in their homes. But they didn't change the batteries....

There's a much smarter solution
As I mentioned above, I looked at this issue long and hard with a dot-com startup eight years ago. As we looked at it, we found a substantially better solution than GPS. Project Lifesaver [projectlifesaver.org] is a not-for-profit organization started in Chesapeake, Virginia that has developed a simple, effective solution targeted at Alzheimers patients, Downs kids, and other "wanderers." The patient has a small bracelet (like a hospital bracelet) attached to his or her wrist: once per minute the bracelet broadcasts a serial value on a digital (i.e. low-power) frequency. If/when a patient goes missing, the people responsible for the patient call the police or the sheriff's office. The cops arrive with two directional antennas tuned to the frequency: they go off in different directions, do a little bit of trigonometry, and Grandpa is back in the facility in less than ten minutes.

The Project Lifesaver solution is not perfect. They have the same battery issue that the "GPS sneakers" approach has (the GPS sneakers approach has been tried again, and again, and again). They also will only work with local law enforcement agencies--in our county the @##$%#^^# sheriff cannot be bothered. They have had a lot of success with local service clubs funding the cost of the bracelets, and (more important) paying for and replacing the batteries.

The GPS sneakers thing sounds like cool technology. Using differential antennas and good ol' trig is much more effective. My daughter still wanders off occasionally (and we live adjacent to a state park)--I wish we could take advantage of the Project Lifesaver program here.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>