Proximity

A discreet wearable with the potential to transform the lives of people suffering with dementia and autism.

How might we reduce the anxiety of carers & patients caused by wandering events?

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.

Creating confidence & peace of mind

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.

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: its ultra-small body doesn’t distress or distract the wearer.

Utilising sympathetic technology

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.

We developed a proximity sensing algorithm optimised for wandering. It’s insensitive to chaotic changes in signal strength but responds quickly to wandering 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.

Maximising ease of use

Throughout the project, the user’s needs were firmly at the heart of our process. Whilst the industrial design focused on comfort and discretion, the UI and UX design focusses on simplicity, with 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. A simple and intuitive app interface is complemented by a step by step tutorial, big and bold action buttons, and easy pairing instructions.

A supportive ecosystem for both carers and patients

The Proximity Button and its accompanying app tackles the problem of wandering simply and effectively, giving carers confidence and peace of mind, with minimal invasion on the patient's own behaviour. Proximity is an ongoing project that has been adopted by various care homes in the UK – see proximity.co.uk for further details.