There are 44 million people living with dementia worldwide, and this number is set to double in the next 20 years. One of the biggest problems for those caring for someone with dementia is wandering, which results from a patient's confusion or short-term memory loss. More than 60% of people with dementia wander, according the Alzheimer's Association.
Proximity Button is a simple and discreet wearable technology with the potential to transform the lives of those living with dementia. Created by Mettle, a London-based industrial design studio, the button tackles out-and-about care of dementia patients by using beacon technology to act as an "early-warning system" when a patient wanders and is put at risk.
Wearable technology can provide more dignified, human-centric dementia care by improving patient well-being, restoring their freedom and allowing them to lead active lives.
Natalie Price - Founder of Proximity Care,Alex Bone - Creative Director of Mettle,Luke Forward - Design Director of Mettle,Sam Parkinson - Technical Director of Mettle,Alice Blencowe - Graphic Designer of Mettle Studio
Conceived by Natalie Price, the daughter of a dementia carer, Proximity Button fastens easily to the inside of the patient's clothing using a magnetic clasp—it rests flat to avoid distracting or distressing the patient. Weighing less than 1lb and measuring 3.4cm in diameter, Proximity is light and discreet. A Bluetooth beacon in the button sends a signal to an accompanying app on the carer's phone. When the patient wanders out of sight, the signal is lost and the app alerts the carer by notification and vibration.
The Proximity app interface is designed to provide an effortless technological experience, with a step-by-step tutorial for new users and simple, bold buttons to ensure ease of use. The integration of Bluetooth technology means that Proximity does not rely on satellite technology. This means that it can be used in all environments, from the supermarket to underground, and is compatible with Android and iOS. The Proximity alarm goes off when the patient wanders out of the carer's line of sight or beyond the 65ft maximum range of the beacon signal. The carer is instantly alerted if the patient has disappeared around the corner of a shopping aisle or into a crowd of people.
Made from aluminum, ABS plastic and rubber-plastic composite, Proximity is water-resistant, has no moving parts and is designed to be durable. Powered by a coin cell battery, it lasts for three months if switched on continuously or for years if turned off when not in use. Switching the device on and off is achieved by a fuss-free squeeze of the case.
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