Keeping your feet in good health is key to day-to-day personal well-being. Around 98 percent of people are born with healthy feet – but less than half retain these into adulthood. The culprit? More often than not, poorly fitting shoes are to blame. Foot problems can have a negative effect on your overall joint mobility and posture. And although there are systems for measuring foot geometry, they normally have one disadvantage: they can only deliver 2D measurements – either indirect or static – of the foot at rest. The solution? An extrinsically conductive measuring sleeve, which the Steinbeis Innovation Center Application-oriented Material-, Production-, and Process-Technology is developing in cooperation with Sächsisches Metall Zentrum GmbH.
Current measuring systems do not yet account for changes in the geometry of the foot which occur when the foot leaves its rest position and becomes subject to changing dynamic load. And it’s these very factors which are key to improved shoe comfort and foot health.
For this reason, Sächsische Metall Zentrum GmbH and the Steinbeis Innovation Center Application-oriented Material-, Production-, and Process-Technology in Zwickau are developing an extrinsically conductive measuring sleeve for 3D static and dynamic data capture with wireless signal transmission. It’s part of a research project sponsored by the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations. These sleeve made up of electrically conductive fibers reinforce plastic change its the electrical resistance, when the foot changes position. This signal is recorded by measuring equipment, amplified, and displayed by software as a 3D graph. Initial experiments have shown that stretching extrinsically conductive plastic fibers results in a change of resistance which can be plotted.
To measure the signals under dynamic load and display them in three dimensions, extensive testing and investigation is needed. This is currently being performed by the Steinbeis Innovation Center in Zwickau. The results of these tests will help further optimize the measuring sleeve.
This technique makes it possible to statically measure foot geometries and create 3D images of the foot under dynamic load – useful when designing shoes with a closer fit or measuring foot positions before, during and after sport. As such, this new measuring system is indispensable in the manufacture development and production of footwear, as well as in sales support. This also includes many areas of the orthopedic footwear industry, including the entire field of prosthetics and orthotics, as well as custom shoe manufacture and insoles.
More over to this, there are a number of other conceivable applications for the technology, in areas as diverse as engineering, the automobile industry, and measurement.
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Stephanie Seidel
Dipl.-Ing. Alexandru Söver
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Lars Frormann
Steinbeis Innovation Center Application-oriented Material-, Production-, and Process-Technology (Zwickau)