These shoes are made for walking… and a lot more!

If orientation is not your strongest feat and if you want to track your daily activities in a discreet way, this is for you!

Finding your Way

Starting from something as basic as a shoe, a company, Ducere Technologies Pvt. created a smart shoe, but this is not only great for the visually impaired, it can also be used for tracking daily activities like your steps or calories burned.  Lechal which means „take me along“ in Hindi, has a bluetooth enabled shoe insert that hooks up with Google Maps and buzzes to let you know when to turn on your chosen route.  The shoes apply haptic feedback to guide the wearer at the right turn to meet up with friends or to get wherever they need to be. It can be used for hands-free biking, hiking, walking and while driving as well.

For runners, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute, who work in collaboration with other European countries, developed the Runsafer, smart shoe with sensors and microelectronics integrated into the sole that measure the biomechanical data of the athlete and evaluate the runner’s form with the help of measurements in real time. It informs the runner for example of incorrect foot position, asymmetric loading, or warns of exhaustion or overload. To re-charge the shoes are placed on a charger. The system comprises of accelerometers and GPS sensors that capture the biomechanical signals from the body as well as the runner’s speed and transmit them via Bluetooth to the runner’s Smartphone. A Smartphone app evaluates the data and gives the athlete feedback on training performance. The high- tech shoe is planned to be available for sale by the beginning of 2015.

Smart Socks

Socks are also becoming smarter from the hand of Hardware maker Heapsylon, their smart sock is one of their 3 products for runners that go by the name of Sensoria Fitness and entered the wearable space a while ago as saw them becoming one of the finalists of the Innovation World Cup in 2012, with sensors placed on the bottom of the foot the app gives feedback  on correcting common movement errors. The Sensoria sock gives real-time feedback.

From Socks to Insoles

Another finalist and winner of the Innovation World Cup 2013/14 is Moticon, a company that developed a sensor insole system called OpenGo, for plantar pressure distribution measurement (PDM). It can be used for patient monitoring and direct feedback with respect to overload prevention. A second application field is training feedback in sports. The sensor insole operates in 2 modes. In live mode, it transmits data to a mobile device in real-time. In recording mode, it stores data on an integrated flash memory.

From socks that make our feet smarter to a company called Digitsole which promises us to keep our feet warm! An interactive insole heats your feet and can be controlled using a smartphone app. You can adjust the temperature of the insoles at the touch of a button, as well as count steps and calories burned. The heating element of the insole is a secret, but the company revealed that it’s located in the toe and that the specially-engineered fabric spreads the heat throughout the sole. Digitsoles are made from a lightweight material called Neotech. They are charged using a USB port and connect to an app via Bluetooth 4.0. If the temperature of the insole drops below the chosen setting, a built-in thermostat then auto-adjusts it. The insoles have a ‘shock-heel system’ to help with general posture and foot health, which consists of a cushion section placed at the back of the insole to soften shock and spread vibrations, a ‘flex zone section’ at the front of the insole to encourage natural movement of the feet and provide arch support. The insoles are available to pre-order on crowd funding website Kickstarter and are expected to be shipped in December, just in time for the Christmas season!

SmartMove has developed a physical activity monitor to help people increase their daily physical activity and improve their health. SmartMove is a smart insole laden with sensors that can distinguish between different types of physical activity, such as standing, walking, running, cycling, climbing stairs and calculate the number of calories burned during these exercises. SmartMove features sensors at the arch and beneath the heel and ball of the foot. Its companion app collects data from the insole’s sensors to understand wearer´s strengths and weaknesses.

To help people who tend to wander or have a risk of becoming disoriented and lost, GTX Corp. is the company behind the SmartSole, a smart insole with which you can track the location through any smartphone, tablet or web browser and set up text and e-mail alerts if they leave or enter defined areas on a map.  By inserting the GPS SmartSole into the shoe and setting a Geo-Fence, you will be able to locate and monitor your loved ones. Battery lasts for a week and to charge it you only need to place it on a charging pad for about 2 hours.

Meledey is an insightful insole, that allows you to effortlessly monitor your weight, your posture, your true calories, your activities and other health metrics in real-time and alerts you when something is out of place. The insole is not available yet and the company is still working on this so keep an eye on future updates.

Tracking your Exercise

A company by the name of 3L Labs developed insoles that incorporates a three-axis accelerometer, and also eight pressure sensors calling them Footlogger. To use FootLoggers, put a pair of them in your shoes, exercise, (either chosen sport or regular daily activities), and when you’re done for the day, take your shoes off and place them on the accompanying ShoeStation. This docking device detects the insoles through the soles of the shoes, and starts wirelessly recharging them at the same time that they transmit their stored data to the ShoeStation via Bluetooth. The results are sent to you via SMS or displayed on app. The paired FootLogger can serve as a high-tech pedometer that records distance traveled and calories burned. The arrangement of its multiple pressure sensors also allows it to map how the user’s weight is distributed with each step. For athletes, the technology can show if they’re placing and transferring their weight correctly, such as in a running stride or a golf swing. In the field of healthcare, the insoles can reportedly be used for fall detection, monitoring, and early prediction of conditions such as dementia or spinal disease.

A Highlight from the WT Conference in San Francisco

A product called Boogio came out to the market at the 12th Wearable Technologies Conference in San Francisco. REFLEX Labs is the company behind 2 devices that are placed in each of the user’s shoe. These are able to detect the force being placed on a user’s foot, and send that information out to a mobile device. A Bluetooth module is also attached to the side of the shoe, for the transmission of data. A possible application of the technology is gaming, with the devices being able to pair with the Oculus Rift to detect movement in 3D space and translate that into a virtual world. The same applies to fitness, where it can be gamified to keep users motivated. The devices could also be used in the medical world, providing feedback on recovery from injuries. Feedback on running and other athletic activities can also be displayed.

THE New Solution for Runners?

The  product runScribe was founded through Kickstarter and is a tiny sensor that attaches to your shoes and can measure a total of 13 different data points while running. This detailed kinematic metrics are then used to provide runners with specific information regarding their stride, including pace, stride rate, stride length and what part of the foot is being used the most upon touching ground. Moreover, runScribe plans to use crowdsourced data to help prevent injuries and narrow down some of the causing factors thanks to the data collected by the wearable ,such as high impact forces, excessive pronation, running surface and one of the most common errors, the use of bad shoes.

Power Up

We all run out of battery in our phones. Most of the phones during the mid-time are already suffering of low battery. Solepower, the power generating shoe insert that lets users charge portable devices while they walk. To generate energy it takes each step and converts it into usable electrical power. As the user swings their leg and steps down, energy is created,the insole captures this energy and stores it in an external battery. A 3 km/ 2miles walk generates enough energy for a solid smartphone charge. A cheap, eco-friendly way to power our gadgets!

A gadget that helps preventing injuries from in worn-out shoes, is MilestonePod. The pod tracks the amount of miles people run in their shoes so that they can be replaced at the right time. Yes, it’s time to throw out those old shoes! The MilestonePod is a small gadget that counts and tracks the mileage of running shoes. It acts as personal ID tag  — the device, which clips right on your shoelace, also has a USB that can store personal and emergency contact information. Users can input how many miles they want to run in a given pair of kicks, and the Pod will alert the runner when it’s time to retire them. The tracking device can also be reset so you can use them on your new shoes. Many runners track their progress with journals and GPS watches, if you’re rotating shoes, it becomes much more challenging to know how many miles are going into each pair, though wearers will have to use common sense about ideal mileage-per-shoe. So how does it work? The device uses sensors and accelerometers that measure the position of the foot 100 times per second.

The “Smart” shoe market has evolved a lot since a few years ago, we already covered this topic in another article where we saw that some of the approaches were in the right direction but hardly developed or probably not on the right time. The shoe is definitely an interesting and discreet way for athletes to track their stats, for GPS navigation and to keep your feet warm as we learnt here!

Previous articleWearables for Managing Epidemics
Next articleMEDICA Highlights