Japan Uses Vending Machines to Help Find Dementia Patients

18 Jun 2015

One of the biggest worries that loved ones of dementia patients have is that they will go missing. This is not an abnormal fear, as countless people who suffer from dementia are reported missing each year, and many of them are never found.

In light of dementia patients who wander off, a new system in Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture, is being tested. This system utilizes GPS tracking, which is placed in vending machines and other common public devices, to process location information and other vital data related to missing dementia patients.

The system is run on Internet of Things (IoT), which was created in cooperation with Captain Yamagata Corp and the National Institute of Technology, Tsuruoka College. And, though it may sound like it would be extremely costly, especially considering the high price of so many technologically related things in Japan, this system is actually quite cost-effective .

How it Works

Upon first hearing about the system, it may sound as if comprehending how the process works is difficult; but in actuality, it is pretty simple. Basically, Wi-Fi devices have been placed around the city in stores and on vending machines and they pick up signals from devices that are given to elderly dementia patients to wear.

Should a patient wander off, family members will receive a notification that will let them know when their loved one passes one of these Wi-Fi enabled locations, via automated emails that are sent directly to their mobile devices.

About the Study

Before introducing this technology to the public, a study is being conducted that involves 10 families. The study is taking place in a location that has a 1.5 kilometer radius in the Yawata district in Sakata.

The dementia patients wear small devices, which are used to send signals to the Wi-Fi devices that have been installed in vending machines and other similar devices.

The hope is that the system will prove to be beneficial and that it will become a reality for all dementia patients and their families.

Should this system prove to be effective in Japan, it could open up similar GPS tracking opportunities for dementia patients and their families around the globe. This would be beneficial in so many ways, as it would allow family members to locate their missing loved ones and it would keep dementia patients safe from harm, including being lost indefinitely.

If one of your loved ones suffers from dementia, imagine what a difference such technology could make. Today, personal GPS trackers for the elderly and GPS tracking for dementia patients are available, and can make a world of difference for families.

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