GTX Corp. developed the GPS Smart Shoe to help caregiver track missing Alzheimer’s and other high-risk patients. When a senior with Alzheimer’s wanders off wearing the GPS shoe, the caregiver immediately receives a geo-fence alert via smartphone and computer, with a direct link to a Google map plotting the person’s location, said Patrick Bertagna, the company’s CEO.

Bertagna said as Alzheimer’s becomes progressively worse, victims still hold on to procedural memories, which are retrieved automatically and used to execute step-by-step procedures involved in both cognitive and motor skills, such as tying shoes, he said.

“If they wander off, they will most likely put on a pair of shoes,” Bertagna said. “That’s why we believe a shoe is the best form factor in terms of providing a solution.”

The device is a quad-band, GPRS and assisted GPS module that is embedded in the heel of a shoe. Location data from the device is transmitted through a cellular network and received on a secure portal. From there, the information can be disseminated through e-mail or SMS to designated caregivers.

“It is capable of collecting a GPS signal, processing the data and then transmitting it out through a cellular network back to a secure portal,” Bertagna said. “So in essence, it’s a two-way GPS miniaturized tracking device made robust enough to be placed inside the heel of a shoe.”

Bertagna added that the device reduces the need for first responders and police officers on the front line to search for people with Alzheimer’s and will decrease the costs associated with search-and-rescue efforts.

“Right now you call 911 and report a missing person and they dispatch police,” he said. “That depletes their resources and takes them away from doing their job, which is law enforcement not search-and-rescue. So I think that especially with budgets being cut throughout the country, some of this responsibility could be put on the caregivers. It gives them the ability to be their own first responders.”

Bertagna said the device ranges from $150 to $300, based on configurations. In addition, monthly service fees can range from $10 to $30.