These are Milbotix’s SmartSocks, and they are quite unique. Unlike regular socks, these special socks are powered by artificial intelligence, and you can even toss them in the washing machine without worrying about batteries.
SmartSocks have an important purpose. They are designed for people who have autism or dementia and may sometimes feel distressed. These socks are useful in care homes and for those living at home without constant caregivers.
“The SmartSocks developed by Milbotix appear to be the most suitable type of smart wearable available as they are more tolerable and potentially less stigmatizing than a wristband or other types of wearable,” said Jacqui Arnold, Head of Customer Experience at Milbotix.
In the southwest England county of Dorset, SmartSocks are going through a trial. These socks have sensors inside them, and they connect to a mobile app. The sensors collect information from the wearer’s ankle and send it to the app. This data is then sent to a cloud platform where smart computer programs analyze it.
These clever programs, which are waiting for a patent, can figure out if the person wearing the SmartSocks is feeling distressed. When the artificial intelligence detects something unusual, it sends an alert through the app. That way, the care team can step in and help.
Dorset is one of the few places where they are testing these socks. Care homes managed by Southern Healthcare, like The Old Rectory in Exeter, have tried them on patients. The patients say they find the socks easy to use.
The BBC talked to Mr. Piper, who has dementia and has been living in The Old Rectory since November 2022. He didn’t mind being one of the first to try these socks. “Anything that’s simple and easy to do, and is improving our look at life as a whole, I’m happy with,” he said.
SmartSocks are expected to be available in 2024 once they get funding from the Digitising Social Care program. The National Health Service (NHS) says there are more than 944,000 people in the UK with dementia. As people live longer, this number is going up. The NHS thinks that by 2030, more than 1 million people in the UK will have dementia.
The inventor of SmartSocks came up with the idea when he witnessed his grandmother’s dementia journey, during which she became anxious and aggressive. Dr. Zeke Steer, CEO of Milbotix, said, “The current product is the result of extensive research, consultation, and development.”
“So far SmartSocks™ have been incredibly well-received in care settings, and I’m excited to see what impact our products can have in providing early alerts of agitation and falls, enabling care home staff to take early intervention, and support people to stay in their own homes for as long as possible,” added Dr. Steer.