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Techies hope to give new Disha to dementia patients

Published : Dec 29, 2015, 5:10 am IST
Updated : Dec 29, 2015, 5:10 am IST

Students of the Veermata Jijabai Institute of Technology (VJTI) may have a solution for people suffering from dementia and help them venture out of their homes independently without having someone to

Students of the Veermata Jijabai Institute of Technology (VJTI) may have a solution for people suffering from dementia and help them venture out of their homes independently without having someone to chaperone them all the time. Two final year students of the institute have developed a wrist band that works through a simple GPS receiver and helps family members keep track of the wearer at all times and also sends alerts through phone messaging if the wearer strays out of the known route due to a dementia attack. The working device was on display during Technovanza, the technological festival of the institute.

Speaking about the device, Kshitij Anand, one of the coordinators of Technovanza said that Indranil Chandra and Vaibhav Yengul, the two members of the team said that they hit upon the idea after getting inspired by a film. “The duo studied the problem and realised that dementia patients suffered from loss of navigational capabilities due to loss of memory and got easily confused with lane numbers and could forget their way back home. As a result of this, the patients and their families were forced to keep them indoors and let them go out only when there was someone to escort them,” said Mr Anand.

Based on their observations and studies, the duo decided to come up with a solution that was not only economical, but also easy to use. Thus, emerged the Disha project that not only would help the patient find their way back home, but also allow family members to track their route when they were outdoors.

“Worldwide more than 44 million people suffer from dementia and in 60-80 per cent of cases cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Of the total people suffering from dementia, 58 per cent live in developing countries where they do not have access to smartphones and even if they have they do not have access to high speed internet connection,” said Mr Chandra.

As a solution, the Disha wristband was created. “The band consists of an on-board GPS receiver which would constantly acquires the geographical co-ordinates of the user. If the user crosses a geo-fence (pre-defined by the user’s family), a warning SMS notification is transmitted to the phone of the user’s family members and the location of the user is then displayed onto a real-time tracker (accessible both through a website as well as on an Android app) that can help the family members in tracking down the user in real-time,” said Mr Yengul.

He added that the wristband also consisted of a “Panic” button which can be pressed by the user to manually notify their family that they lost their path (even if the user is within the geo-fence) and triggers a notification onto the smartphone of the user’s family members about his/her present co-ordinates and help the family members in tracking the user and locating him/her. The wristband is easy to wear and also gives haptic and auditory feedback to the user to help them while navigating way back home. The duo have also developed an Android app to help visualise the location of the user on a map and track them in real-time.

The duo said that they had given presentations to some buyers and were awaiting their responses to start commercial manufacturing of the device. They said the device could also be used to track the activities of minor children when they are out of the house.