This AI-Powered Sock Could Revolutionize the Care of People With Dementia

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The potential impact of this AI-powered sock extends beyond the confines of care facilities. SmartSocks inventor Dr. Zeke Steer has embarked on a mission to transform care for individuals with dementia and non-verbal autism, drawing inspiration from his great-grandmother’s struggle with dementia.

Leaving his job, he delved into a robotics PhD program and began volunteering in a care home, determined to make a difference. His efforts culminate with SmartSocks, a pioneering technology designed to track crucial metrics such as heart rate, sweat levels, and motion. These insights offer a window into the wearer’s well-being, particularly their level of distress.

Driven by artificial intelligence (AI), this data equips caregivers with timely warnings, enabling them to intervene proactively and prevent potential accidents or escalating anxiety.

SmartSocks resemble ordinary socks, ensuring comfort and familiarity for the wearer. Furthermore, they are machine washable and designed to seamlessly integrate into daily routines. They have received positive feedback in care home trials.

By providing caregivers with early warnings and critical information, individuals with dementia could continue residing in their own homes for extended periods.

Steer’s startup, Milbotix, has garnered substantial support, with over £550k in pledges from more than 500 investors during Crowdcube’s early access phase.

The official Crowdcube fund launch last September 26 aims to secure £200,000, which will unlock an additional £500,000 from government grants already secured.

Steer expressed his gratitude, emphasizing the urgency of their mission to enhance care for the millions affected by dementia worldwide. With 200,000 new dementia diagnoses annually in the UK alone, the impact on individuals, families, and caregivers is profound.

“Every year 200,000 people are diagnosed with dementia in the UK alone, affecting not just them but their families and carers too. We are determined to bring SmartSocks to market to improve the lives of people affected by this terrible disease. Thank you to everyone who has pledged their support so far,” Dr. Steer said in a statement posted on the University of Bristol website.

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Some early backers, motivated by the desire to enhance the quality of life for individuals grappling with dementia, committed sums as modest as £50. On the other hand, others were drawn to the robust business potential that Milbotix represents.

The startup has successfully secured significant funding from reputable sources such as Innovate UK and Alzheimer’s Society. Notably, SmartSocks have already garnered interest from two UK councils, leading to pre-orders. Additionally, they have undergone the necessary steps for patent registration and international trademarking.

The funds procured will be earmarked to expand Milbotix’s team, encompassing engineers and clinical researchers. This investment aims to build upon the triumphs of their initial trials and propel the technology to new heights.

Professor Michele Barbour, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Innovation at the University of Bristol, said: “This technology has the potential to affect real change for the person with dementia, and for their carers and family. For that reason, it’s been superb to see so many people backing Milbotix’s vision – both as a business and a force for positive change in dementia care.”

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