Smart Insoles Help Detect Subtle Posture Problems
Scientists from the Swiss research institutes ETH Zurich, Empa and EPFL have designed and 3D printed orthopedic insoles that detect pressure points on the foot, allowing you to correct your shoes or gait. This will simplify the diagnosis and save the musculoskeletal system from degradation.
The pressure sensitive insoles are 3D printed. First, a flexible base layer of silicone and cellulose nanoparticles is applied, and then a conductive silver ink is used to print the conductors. Next, soot ink prints the sensors on the conductors. Finally, another layer of silicone is applied to protect the electronics.
Current analogues of such a device are dependent on a computer and an external power source, but this one works on piezoelectric sensors and can be operated for several days, recording and mapping pathological pressure points.
“From the pressure patterns detected, you can tell if someone is walking, running, climbing stairs, or even carrying a heavy load on their back – in this case, the pressure is more shifted to the heel,” said ETH’s Empa and Gilberto Siqueira, who led the study.
The developers plan to introduce their technology into the healthcare sector so that individual insoles can be quickly and cheaply made for each patient on a 3D printer.