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Watch for Alzheimer’s Patients
July 4, 2014   
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A 19-year-old technical school student has designed a special watch that will make it possible to quickly locate a patient or an elderly person with memory problems who has gotten lost after leaving home. The watch will also make it easier to search for missing persons in the dark.

Moreover, the device, which is worn on the wrist like any other watch, will remind the wearer to take medication at a specific time. The 19-year-old designer, Mariusz Bielaszka, a student at an electronic technical high school in Połaniec in south-central Poland, is thinking about how the device can be upgraded to include more features.

The young designer says he was encouraged to undertake the project by cases of missing persons reported in the media. He once took part in an all-night search for a missing person himself.

Bielaszka’s design will make it possible to find elderly and sick people—for example, those with Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common cause of dementia among older people—if they go missing. Bielaszka designed the watch for a contest for young inventors under the supervision of his teacher Mariusz Zyngier.

The device has a built-in GPS module with an SIM card. Someone looking after the elderly or sick person needs no more than an ordinary mobile phone and the number of the watch in order to use the device. To begin with, it is necessary to define the area that is safe for the patient to move around, such as the home, neighborhood, or even a small town. If the patient ventures further afield, the device sends a text message to the caregiver that the wearer has left the safe zone. The text message will also provide the person’s whereabouts with an accuracy of 3 meters.

The watch glows in the dark. It is enough to send a text message saying “Flash” to the number of the watch, and the watch will start flashing intensely. This will significantly facilitate a search at night, for example, when locating a missing person is especially difficult.

The watch comes with a medication alert feature. At a designated hour when the patient is supposed to take their medication, the watch will display an image of a specific drug that should be taken. There will be no need for the elderly person to read information about a drug because this is often troublesome for them.

For now only a demo version of the watch is available, and this version will still be improved, Bielaszka says. The look of the device will change—it will be different for men and women—and new functions will be added.

The watch has received positive reviews from institutions including Poland’s Itaka Foundation, which runs a Center for Missing Persons, and disabled care centers. The device can also be helpful in tracking and monitoring rare, protected species of animals and in finding missing objects and recovering stolen cars, Bielaszka says.

According to preliminary estimates, if the device enters mass production, it will cost around zl.150-200, according to Bielaszka.

“Unlike some similar products available on the market, my watch can work for up to two months without being recharged. Currently available products of this type last no more than two days,” says Bielaszka.

For his invention, Bielaszka received a special award and a gold medal in the Young Inventor category at the Brussels Innova international innovation exhibition in Brussels, Belgium.

Olga Majewska
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