Can AI Socks Help Track Dementia?

Born from a collaboration between the University of Exeter and the tech start-up Milbotix, SmartSocks represent a pioneering effort in healthcare technology.

The primary aim behind their creation was to help dementia patients age comfortably in their homes by identifying signs of distress early on.

Not Just Another Pair of Socks: Advanced Features and Benefits

At a glance, SmartSocks look like any other pair of socks you might have in your drawer. This deceptive simplicity is one of their greatest assets.

They’re designed to monitor heart rate, sweat levels, and motion—all key indicators of a wearer’s emotional and physical state.

Unlike many electronic health monitoring devices, these socks don’t come with the inconvenience of needing frequent charging.

On top of that, they are machine-washable, so they’re suitable for everyday use.

SmartSocks unique features include their ability to assess the mental condition of wearers, which sets them apart from most health monitoring devices on the market.

Since socks are an everyday clothing item, wearers don’t feel any sense of intrusion.


A Personal Touch: The Inspiration Behind SmartSocks
The initial idea for SmartSocks came from Bristol, UK, and Osaka, Japan, as researchers there were exploring novel ways to integrate technology into everyday wear.

The real push, though, came from Dr. Zeke Steer, the CEO of Milbotix. Steer’s motivation was personal: he watched his great-grandmother grapple with dementia and felt there had to be a better way to support individuals like her.

He said, “I came up with the idea for SmartSocks while volunteering in a dementia care home. The current product is the result of extensive research, consultation, and development.”

Trials play a crucial role in the development of any health-related product. Recognising this, the UK Dementia Research Institute Care Research & Technology Center at Imperial College London is integrating the SmartSocks into their SmartHome service named “Minder”.

A trial with 15 dementia patients at home is also in progress. And it’s not just homes; caregiving facilities, especially those under Southern Healthcare, are testing SmartSocks too.

Voices from the Field: What Experts Are Saying

Sarah Daniels from the UK DRI Care Research & Technology Center at Imperial College London mentioned, “Wearable devices are fast becoming an important way of monitoring health and activity. SmartSocks offer a new and promising alternative which could avoid many of these issues.”

Margot Whittaker, Director of Nursing and Compliance at Southern Healthcare Group, stated, “I think the idea of SmartSocks™ is an excellent way forward to help detect when a person is starting to feel anxious or fearful.”

Matthew Harrison from Imperial College London observed, “There is a need for a wearable device that is acceptable to users, that provides continuous physiological data… smart socks have the potential to be an elegant solution to this need.”

Lastly, Natasha Howard-Murray from the Alzheimer’s Society highlighted, “By taking the form of an everyday item, these SmartSocks are less stigmatising and invasive than current products and will be easier to use in care settings.”

Although the feedback on SmartSocks is largely positive, it’s vital to consult with healthcare professionals before making any health decisions.

SmartSocks seem promising, but they are intended to complement traditional dementia care methods, not replace them.