Milbotix is a young innovative company, based in Bristol, UK, that have developed the SmartSocks™ (patent pending) to reduce agitation through early detection of stress. The SmartSocks™ are targeted at helping those caring for people experiencing communication difficulties to reduce distress. The familiar design of the socks is intended to increase acceptance and adherence for people who find wearables overly complex, uncomfortable, and/or stigmatising.
Milbotix was founded in 2020 by Zeke Steer, CEO, & Jacqui Arnold, Chief Experience Officer. Zeke worked as an engineer for over 10 years developing expertise in electronics, software, and data science. Zeke’s doctoral research at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (Bristol, UK) investigated how wearables, artificial intelligence, and robotics can support dementia carers to better manage distress and agitation. Jacqui is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist, has worked in social care for nearly 40 years, with extensive experience providing care for older people in a range of settings, including those with dementia.
The inspiration for Milbotix, came from personal experience – Zeke conceived of the SmartSocks™ after witnessing his great grandmother’s journey with dementia and escalating agitation and aggression. Used by people with dementia, autism spectrum disorders, and some learning disabilities, the SmartSocks™ generally improve quality of life, reduce agitation, decrease burden on families and carers, and save costs for health and social care.
The SmartSocks™ (patent pending) are used as an aid to assist care staff to provide psychological or physical assistance at an earlier stage than they may otherwise be able to. People who spend time in their own room in a care home are not visible to care staff who may not be able to pick up on heightened distress or agitation until it becomes verbalised and has significantly decreased wellbeing.
There are a number of different components that make-up the SmartSocks™ solution. There is an App of course – the Milbotix App collects physiological data from the sensors embedded in the socks. The sensor data is transmitted securely to a cloud platform, where the Milbotix proprietary algorithms (patent pending) process the sensor data, estimating the likelihood that the person wearing the SmartSocks™ is experiencing distress. Alerts are then sent back to the app if the person wearing the socks is experiencing distress.
The clever bits of technology, developed by Milbotix, are the discreet embedded sensors and the algorithm that uses Artificial Intelligence to recognise distress. The sensors which collect physiological data from the foot and ankle. The sensor array uses e-textiles, and its design is informed by experimental research investigating physiological responses to pain, social anxiety, and mental workload. The algorithm reliably recognises activity and stress biomarkers, alerting care staff to signs of (unverbalised) distress at an earlier stage than might otherwise be possible.
Milbotix are developing the SmartSocks™ in collaboration with the UK Dementia Research Institute and University of Exeter Medical School and also working with the Alzheimer’s Society, the UK’s leading dementia charity.
The current focus is raising further investment. The company has been awarded grants worth over £1 million, including £900,000 from Innovate UK (contingent on the company raising aligned investment). It is now calling impact and medtech investors to invest £500,000 to match these grants.
Milbotix is starting to get the recognition it deserves getting shortlisted and winning awards – here are just a few examples:
- Zeke made it to the Bristol final of UK-wide startup competition The Pitch (2022), where he pitched live to a panel of local investors.
- Shortlisted for the Barclays People’s Choice Award in the Entrepreneurship Awards 2022
- First prize in the Accelerate category at the Santander X UK Awards 2022
We wish Milbotix every success with the continuing development and their future fundraising. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on their progress.
Images courtesy of Milbotix