23rd February 2023 – UK care-tech start-up Milbotix Ltd announces an investment round to complete the development of SmartSocks™ that track signs of stress and agitation in people with neurocognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Alzheimer’s Society, the UK’s leading dementia charity, says there will be 1.6 million people with dementia in the UK by 2040, with one person developing dementia every three minutes. Dementia is thought to cost the UK £34.7 billion a year.
Award-winning start-up Milbotix, which is backed by Alzheimer’s Society, seeks angel investment to complete the development of SmartSocks™ and match grants worth over £1/2 million. The investment will enable Milbotix to help millions of people living with dementia.
Angel investor Dean was inspired to invest in Milbotix after witnessing that his late mother, who had dementia, was becoming increasingly agitated and upset.
“Smart socks would have picked up when Mum was becoming agitated and would have helped in the early days of her illness by enabling Dad to deploy the distraction techniques we used to calm her. They would also have helped the hard-pressed care home staff to target their care to her needs and alerted them to her distress when she was alone in her room, enabling them to respond more quickly and help relieve her anxiety.”
Agitation and aggression in dementia are often caused by unmanaged pain and anxiety. The SmartSocks™ contain comfortable sensors that measure the wearer’s sweat, pulse, temperature, and motion. They work in conjunction with patent-pending artificial intelligence software and a mobile app that alerts carers to signs of distress.
Natasha Howard-Murray, Senior Innovator at Alzheimer’s Society commented “By taking the form of an everyday item, these smart socks are less stigmatising and invasive than current products and will be easier to use in care settings, helping carers to feel less overwhelmed with multiple tasks.”
Commenting on Dean’s investment, founders Dr Zeke Steer and Jacqui Arnold said “We are seeking passionate, impact-oriented investors like Dean to help us revolutionise how dementia care is delivered. Please get in touch if you would like to support the development of the SmartSocks™ product line.”
Milbotix Ltd is headquartered near Oxford, UK, with offices in Bristol.
The company is a spin-out from the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England. Founded by robotics and AI expert Dr Zeke Steer and dementia specialist Jacqui Arnold, Milbotix’s mission is to improve the lives of people with dementia and other conditions that make it difficult for them to communicate distress. Milbotix is partnered with Alzheimer’s Society through their Accelerator Programme.
The Story Behind SmartSocks™
Dr Steer was working as a software engineer in the defence industry when his great-grandmother, Kath, began showing signs of dementia. A gentle person with a passion for jazz music, she became prone to bouts of agitation and aggression after her diagnosis. Realising that technologies like artificial intelligence could revolutionise dementia care, Dr Steer quit his job and completed a PhD at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory so that he could find a way to help people like Kath.
During his PhD research, he spent some time volunteering with Bristol-based charity St Monica Trust. “I came to see that my great grandmother’s symptoms weren’t an isolated case, and that distressed behaviours are very common,” he explained. “Current alternatives to the SmartSocks™ are worn on the wrist, which presents problems with the devices being removed and causing distress. The SmartSocks™ are comfortable and familiar and exploit the high density of sweat glands on the soles of the feet to more accurately recognise when the wearer is stressed.”