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Smart Textiles

Gait breakthrough with knitted sensors

Technology promises to make personalised, predictive and proactive data capture available to all.

1st November 2021

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Nottingham, United Kingdom

Sports/​Outdoor, Medical/Hygiene

Footfalls and Heartbeats, based in Nottingham, UK, continues to innovate and push the boundaries of  what is possible with knitted textile sensors.

 In the past couple of weeks, its knitting team has produced shoes that are able to measure the full gait cycle without embedded electronics or sensors – just technical knitting.

The gait cycle is a measure of the stance and stride phase when either walking or running. These phases are noted by various points of contact under the foot. Until very recently the Footfalls team has found it very difficult to measure “toe off” – a technical term for when you push off using the front of your foot.

“Not anymore,” says founder and director Simon McMaster. “We can now easily measure when delicate toes leave the ground. Imagine measuring gait accurately in diabetic patients to predict the onset of foot ulcers, or the improvement made by people in rehabilitation after a stroke and the progress after a hip or knee replacement without lengthy and costly visits to outpatients.

“Also, footballers will be able to get back to full fitness after an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction with this technology. All of this is now possible in a shoe that looks no different from the trainer you buy on the High Street.

“Knitting may have been invented 400 years ago in Nottingham, but it will next change the future of healthcare and rehabilitation as we make personalised, predictive and proactive data capture available to all.”

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