Dorset Council will pilot the use of a new artificial intelligence (AI) technology in care homes.

Our Dorset Integrated Care System will be piloting the use of a new AI sock designed to sense when people with dementia or autism are in distress.

The socks track heart rates, sweat, temperature and motion and will alert carers to problems before they escalate and have had positive feedback after testing.

The design of the new technology is intended to increase familiarity with those that already wear more complex or uncomfortable devices and help with the stigma surrounding them.

Dorset Council is one of a select few local authorities that will be trialling the device, which is expected to be released in 2024, after funding was allocated under the Digitising Social Care programme.

Cllr Jane Somper, Portfolio lead member for adult social care, health and housing, said: “Smart Socks can help enable people living with dementia or other conditions to retain their independence and have better day to day quality of life.” 

Created by Milbotix, the SmartSocks can be used in care homes or in people’s own homes and are machine washable.

Using AI-driven data, the socks are paired with an app that is installed on a smartphone with a sensor in one sock to collect physiological information from the foot and ankle.

The data is then transmitted to a cloud platform where algorithms process the information before relaying it to carers, who are then alerted to any distress through the app.

Dr Zeke Steer, Milbotix founder, said: “Partnering with forward thinking organisations like Dorset Council means we can hear the expert voices of people providing and receiving care.

“We are committed to building a product that genuinely help carers and improves wearers’ overall wellbeing.”

Dr Steer set up the company three years ago while undertaking research into wearables and AI at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory.

He was motivated to embark on the research after his grandmother began to show signs of early onset dementia, becoming agitated and distressed.

The Dorset Integrated Care System works with local people and organisations to ensure the right care is provided to everyone at a very local level.

They improve services across the county to better meet the needs of the people who use them.