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Smart shoe evaluates running style in real time

A high-tech running shoe has been developed in Germany which, according to its developers, could help reduce the number of running-related injuries.

The battery-powered concept shoe relies on an rf module, GPS sensors, accelerometers and microelectronics to evaluate a jogger's running form and technique in real time.

The system captures biomechanical signals from the body and transmits them via Bluetooth to the jogger's smartphone app, which then evaluates the data and offers feedback to the runner on how they can improve performance.

"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," explained researcher Andreas Heinig, from the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS.

For more detailed analysis, the data captured by the system can also be transferred to a dedicated website, so that users can create a customised training programme with specific performance goals.

"Pulse-rate watches and chest straps record only vital signs like breathing and heart rate," Dr Heeinig continued. "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.

The researchers are now working to make the system even smaller. The running shoe is expected to go on the market by early 2015.

Laura Hopperton

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