A Smart Shoe That Can Evaluate Running Form In Real Time
December 5, 2013

A Smart Shoe That Can Evaluate Running Form In Real Time

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Jogging has been proven to reduce stress, prevent cardiovascular disease, and build muscle. However, jogging can also induce a number of injuries, such as twisting or injuring an ankle joint, pulling a ligament or even breaking an ankle.

With this in mind, researchers are developing a specialized running shoe with special sensors and microelectronics to help prevent future injuries. The electronics are integrated into the sole of the shoe to help measure the biomechanical data of the athlete and also evaluate the runner’s form in real-time.

“Pulse-rate watches and chest straps record only vital signs like breathing and heart rate. In contrast, our running shoe medically evaluates and monitors training while jogging. It informs the runner for example of incorrect foot position, asymmetric loading, or warns of exhaustion or overload. There has never been a comparable device before,” Dr. Andreas Heinig, a scientist at Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (Fraunhofer IPMS), said in a statement.

The measurement system can be installed and removed from the soles of the shoes fairly easily. The pair of shoes can also be charged by simply hooking them up to the charger.

The shoes use Bluetooth technology to help transmit data like the runner’s speed and location. The new kicks also include technology like accelerometers and GPS sensors to help capture the biomechanical signals from the body. All of the data can be transmitted through Bluetooth to the runner’s smartphone through an app that evaluates the data in a split second with the help of special algorithms that give the athlete feedback on training performance. The application can also help give runners suggestions about their running form or their training routine to help prevent injury.

“The app could recommend running more slowly, for example, or rolling off the foot differently, suggest seeking a different running surface or stopping if necessary,” Heinig said.

The biomechanical data is also transferred during the run from the smartphone to a website for further processing, evaluation and display. Runners can set a customized training program based on this data with personalized performance goals that are constantly updated.

The team said they are currently working on another version of the microelectronics and sensors in order to make the shoes waterproof, light and more durable. The team said the high-tech shoes will be available for sale by the beginning of 2015.