A new project led by Dr Shlomi Haar (UK DRI Care Research & Technology Centre) will test whether a sock which combines sensors with artificial intelligence could help carers detect agitation and prevent falls in people with dementia.
The innovative ‘SmartSocks’ track heart rate, sweat levels and motion to give insight into the wearers wellbeing, providing accurate insight into a person’s cognitive state, and distress levels. They look and feel like normal socks, do not need charging and are machine washable. Current wearable technology approaches are worn on wrist straps, which can stigmatise or even cause more stress, and are frequently removed by patients.
Care technology start-up Milbotix, who developed the SmartSocks, has partnered with teams at two UK institutions to test the technology. In one project, Milbotix is working with the UK DRI Care Research & Technology Centre at Imperial College London, who are developing ‘smart home’ technology to support people living with dementia to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.
In this study, the team will first test the SmartSocks in their living lab, a domestic environment where they study activities of daily living and develop technologies before they can be tested in the home. Then they will deploy the tech in the homes of 15 people living with dementia to assess the capability of the socks to detect distress and agitation in the wearer.
In a second, separate study, Milbotix is working with the University of Exeter to test whether SmartSocks can help staff working in care homes support people who may not be able to communicate agitation, or the cause of distress. Milbotix is trialing SmartSocks in a network of care homes managed by Southern Healthcare, with a research team at the University of Exeter evaluating the pilot study. Both studies are funded by Innovate UK.