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Slippers That Send Text Messages. Why Not?

August 4, 2011 4:53 pm by

We’re not sure how we missed this article from July 15th in The Wall Street Journal entitled Now, Even Granny’s Fuzzy Slippers Are Texting You. With a flexible text messaging API, there really is no limits to what you can integrate text messages into:

Wireless diapers are the brainchild of a startup called 24eight. Embedded with a cellular chip, they can send a “diaper wet” notification via text message to a cellphone. The company says they cost about two cents more apiece than normal diapers. David Schieffelin, chief executive of 24eight, says he’s still searching for the right partner to help him commercialize the product.

While babies come with a built-in notification method all their own, these diapers could keep parents updated when they’re out of hearing range. “A parent can remotely monitor a care center and get ‘diaper wet’ messages when they are at work,” he says.

Mr. Schieffelin was able to join with wireless carriers on another of his inventions: fuzzy slippers.

AT&T is running a clinical trial using “SmartSlippers,” produced by 24eight, that are aimed at the elderly. Verizon Wireless recently made an investment in the company, and Mr. Schieffelin hopes to sell the slippers this fall directly to consumers.

The slippers will cost about $100—and a cellular plan that would allow the slippers to send messages would cost $25 a month.

If the wearer gets wobbly, an “accelerometer” in the sole—the same gizmo that makes the iPhone respond to tilts and twists—will sense trouble. The slipper will then send a text over the carrier’s network to a family member or the wearer’s physician.

“Think of what can be gathered just off your feet,” Mr. Schieffelin says. “Why shouldn’t something as innocuous as a data device be placed into fuzzy slippers?”

Already on the market: A $10 pill bottle that glows, beeps, phones and texts if you are in danger of missing a dose. The so-called GlowCaps, from Vitality Inc., a start-up based in Cambridge, Mass., can also tattle, keeping records that can be sent to doctors or family members.

Read the entire, fascinating piece at the Wall Street Journal.

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