These boots were really made for walking.
The first batch of 3,000 shoes with integrated GPS devices — to help track down dementia-suffering seniors who wander off and get lost — just shipped from manufacturer GTX Corp. to the footwear firm Aetrex, two years after plans were announced to develop the product.
The company's first shoes — dreamed up in 2002 following the Elizabeth Smart case — were intended to locate missing children. And safety is the driving force today behind the company's newest GPS-enabled shoe. According to AFP, the shoes will sell for about $300 a pair and buyers will be able to set up a monitoring service to locate "wandering" seniors suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
The system is implanted in the heel of an otherwise normal shoe, and lets caregivers or family members monitor the wearer and even set up alerts if a person strays outside of a predefined area.
The shoes were certified by the Federal Communications Commission this year. GTX believes the market has great potential, given the soaring costs of Alzheimer's.
"This is a significant milestone for both companies and while the $604 billion worldwide cost of dementia has become and will continue to be a significant fiscal challenge, the under-$300 GPS-enabled shoes will ease the enormous physical and emotional burden borne by Alzheimer's victims, caregivers and their geographically distant family members," said Patrick Bertagna, chief executive of GTX Corp.
Health professionals say the new GPS shoes could be a real boon for the more than 5 million Americans who suffer from the disease, according to AFP. Andrew Carle, a professor at George Mason University's College of Health and Human Services, said the shoes may even save lives.
"It's especially important for people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer's who are at the highest risk," Carle told AFP.
"They might be living in their home but they're confused. They go for a walk and they can get lost for days."
But well before GTX untied its newest product, another manufacturer strode into the picture with a decidedly different demographic — prostitutes.
"Our first shoe, a demo version of the Platform 001 sandal, was inspired by the prostitutes of ancient Greece and Rome, who enticed clients with their flutes and sandals that left 'follow me' footprints in the earth," explains the website for The Aphrodite Project.
"Our contemporary sandals combine these poetic images from antiquity with promotional and safety features designed to meet the needs of today’s sex workers."
The Aphrodite Project's sandals are designed to protect with a piercing siren to scare off threatening muggers or attackers and a GPS-powered system that can send warnings to police.