Proximity Care

An innovative wearable for positive change.

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The problem

For those caring for someone with dementia, one of the biggest problems they will face is wandering: a common side effect of the disease. This causes massive anxiety to the carer and risk to the patient. There are 44 million people living with dementia worldwide and this number is set double every 20 years.

The Proximity Button

Proximity Button is a small wearable worn by dementia patients that emits radio signals to an app on their carer’s phone. When the patient wanders, the signal is lost and the phone alarms to warn the carer. The Button tackles the problem simply and effectively giving carers confidence and peace of mind.

Proximity Care image
Proximity Care image

A discreet design

The button’s industrial design is simple and discreet. Lightweight but resilient, it snaps onto the patient’s top with an innovative magnetised fastening and rests flush on their collar bone. The silicon strap is elastic yet the slim casing of the beacon and the concave in the plastic where the magnet sits allows maximum slimless of the design and therefore when worn, it’s ultrasmall body doesn’t distress or distract the wearer.

Sympathetic design

This product uses BLE beacons which emit a low-power high frequency radio signal. However, the propagation of BLE radio signals is hugely affected by the environment within which they are emitted, and especially so by human bodies.

BLE beacons emit a low-power high frequency radio signal. The propagation of BLE radio signals is hugely affected by the environment within which they are emitted, and especially so by human bodies. So we developed a proximity sensing algorithm optimised for wandering. It’s insensitive to chaotic changes in signal strength but responds quickly to wondering events.

Our understanding of the technology also guided the physical design of the product, positioning the beacon as high as possible on the patient to give the best position for the BLE antenna.

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A simple and intuitive interface

Throughout the Proximity Care project, the user’s needs have always been at the centre of the design process. Whilst the industrial design focused on comfort and discretion, the UI and UX design focussed on simplicity, and clear instruction for inexperienced smartphone users. Research showed that the majority of carers were inexperienced app users, and confusion when using the Proximity Care app would only add to the stress and anxiety they experienced when their patient wandered. We therefore designed a simple and highly intuitive interface that facilitated the user’s interaction with our Proximity Care product. The app includes a step by step tutorial, big and bold action buttons and easy pairing instructions.

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