Technology designed to reduce injuries from running has been developed as part of an EU project.Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS and five partners are developing the specialised running shoe in the RUNSAFER project.

Sensors and microelectronics integrated into the sole of the shoe will measure the biomechanical data of the athlete and evaluate the runner’s form with the help of measurements in real time.

‘Pulserate 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,’ said Dr Andreas Heinig, a scientist at IPMS.

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

Besides the microcontroller, RF module, and batteries, the system 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 with the help of 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 in a statement.

In addition, the measured values are transferred during the run from the Smartphone to a website for further processing, evaluation, and display. A customised training program can be set up based on this data with personalized performance goals that are constantly updated.

The team is trying to improve the prototype system by developing a smaller version of the microelectronics and sensors, which present challenges in relation to waterproofing, weight and durability.

RUNSAFER-Project partner New Millenium Sports SL, the Spanish manufacturer of athletic shoes and sportswear and owner of the Kelme brand, will bring the product to market in around 2015.

Source: The Engineer

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