Suffering From Alzheimer's? Wander Safely With New Wearable Sensor

A young scientist has invented a wearable sensor, SafeWander, that alerts caregivers on their smartphones when their patients wander out of bed. He invented it based on personal experiences with his own grandfather who suffers from Alzheimer's and has started to wander.

SafeWander AppSafeWander App

They say that 6 out of 10 people suffering from dementia will wander, a dangerous situation as a person with Alzheimer's may not remember his or her name or address, and can easily become disorientated.

Other solutions to wandering exist. One is the MedicAlert bracelet that contains information about allergies, an emergency phone number to call and other vital information. The service is renewed annually on subscription.

Another option is ComfortZone, a location based web service linked to a GPS device worn by the patient, similar to a location device PocketFinder worn by a child, or someone travelling

What's different about SafeWander, is that the pressure sensor embedded in the patients sock sends an alert to the caregivers smartphone as soon as the patient gets up from his chair or bed, detecting the increase in pressure caused by body weight. It sends an alert in that moment, unlike using GPS technology to track a patient's whereabouts long after they've been missing, or relying on some stranger to help your lost loved one by calling a phone number on their bracelet. 

More impressive than the invention, is that the inventor, Kenneth Shinozuka, is just 15. He says: "I will never forget how deeply moved my entire family was when they first witnessed my sensor detecting Grandfather’s wandering," Shinozuka writes in his project. "At that moment, I was struck by the power of technology to change lives."

 


 

His innovation has won him a $50,000 prize and "Science in Action" award from Scientific American Magazine, and he is competing in the Google Science Fair this month in California. Nice to see young people building apps for the elderly.