New smart shoe to curb jogging-related injuries

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Sensors and microelectronics integrated into the sole of the shoe measure the bio-mechanical data of the athlete. (Photo: Thinkstock) Sensors and microelectronics integrated into the sole of the shoe measure the bio-mechanical data of the athlete. (Photo: Thinkstock)
SummarySensors & microelectronics integrated into the shoe sole measures the bio-mechanical data of the athlete.

Researchers have developed a new high-tech athletic shoe that evaluates a jogger's running form and technique and warns them of exhaustion or overload to prevent injuries like pulled ligaments or torn muscles.

To prevent jogging-related injuries and symptoms of muscle overload during athletic training, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS, Germany, in collaboration with five partners have developed the prototype of the specialised running shoe.

Sensors and microelectronics integrated into the sole of the shoe measure the biomechanical data of the athlete and evaluate the runner's form with the help of measurements 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," said Dr Andreas Heinig, a scientist at IPMS.

"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,"

Heinig said. The measurement system can be easily installed and removed from the soles of the shoes. To charge it, the pair of shoes is placed on a charger that is included.

The system also comprises accelerometers and GPS sensors that capture the biomechanical signals from the body as well as the runner's speed and transmit it via Bluetooth to the runner's smartphone.

A smartphone app evaluates the data in a split second with the help of specialised algorithms and gives the athlete feedback on training performance. If necessary, the app makes suggestions about running form or the training routine.

"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 high-tech shoe is expected to be commercially available by the beginning of 2015.

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