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"Smart socks" help people with dementia in Bulgaria

Photo: BNR Shumen

Caring for the elderly who often panic because they have forgotten the way home. This empathy is behind the "smart socks" with which students from the Robotics Club of the Shumen-based Panayot Volov school want to help people in their senior age to live their old days more easily.
"Although we are still children, we are interested in social topics," says Larisa Martynova. And explains the meaning of their idea:

"Our project is aimed at people with brain problems - dementia, autism. We started it because we think that in Bulgaria these people are neglected by society and not so much effort is made towards them. And in order for them to be supported, it is necessary to invest a lot of finance."

The idea is to put a tracker in the given person's socks that tracks their location. The device is relatively cheap and can be easily bought online.

"The tracker transmits the information to an application pre-programmed by the company that manufactures and offers it", explains Larisa. "The device can at any time indicate where the people who have put on the socks are located", says Simona Ganeva, joining the conversation. "We decided to put the tracker in knitted socks, as we wanted to combine Bulgarian traditions with the project itself. Also, socks are something that can be very difficult to remove, for example in the middle of the street."

And since this part of the project requires a dose of creativity and skills, far from the worldview of most young people, Plamena Nedelcheva becomes the leader in knitting and needlework:

"I learned to knit from my grandmother, so I was quite helpful here, if I may say so," she says. I showed the girls the things that not everyone knew. Our English teacher was really helpful - she is involved in knitting and she knew how socks are made so she showed us exactly how the process was done."

When the prototype socks are ready, the tracking chip is attached to them. A solution that requires elegance and practicality, according to Laura Marinova:

"We sewed a pocket to the sock, the size of which we adjusted to that of the GPS tracker. Then we inserted the device and put a patch so that it can be removed - for example, when the socks need to be washed."

Driven by altruism, the students of the Robotics Club came up with the idea of "smart socks", prompted also by a personal motive.

"It inspired us to do exactly this project, because we have relatives and friends with brain diseases and we want to help not only them, but also their relatives," says Simona.

The girls are happy with the first tests and hope that many people will soon benefit from their product.

Text: Diana Tsankova (based on a report by Deyan Gergovski from BNR Shumen)

Photos: BNR Shumen

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