STTR Phase I: Piezoelectric Self-sensing Shoe Insole

Period of Performance: 01/01/2016 - 12/31/2016

$206K

Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Nano Composite Products, Inc
679 North 400 East
Orem, UT 84097
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Brigham Young University
A-285 ASB
Provo, UT 84602
Institution POC

Abstract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project lies in an ability to provide information regarding human movement in a way that is less expensive, more robust, and more accurate than existing methods, in order to improve human health and performance. The project advances several technology areas including ?smart? wearable sensors, mobile assistive technology, and multi-sensor networked decision-making. The insole launches into the rapidly growing ?wearable device? market, which is anticipated to grow by 200% over the next 3 years. The introduction of an economical self-sensing material that can transform current foam and compliant components into high-accuracy deformation sensors has huge potential in almost all fields of consumer products and engineering. Initial interest has already been expressed from manufacturers of running shoes, athletic helmets, car bumpers, airbag sensors, and mattress manufacturers. Other applications are numerous: self-monitoring artificial spine segments, self-sensing furniture, smart mounts for vibrating equipment, etc. Furthermore, the collaboration with Brigham Young University (with a specific focus on undergraduate mentoring) introduces a large number of future engineers to the works of high-tech startups, and a wide variety or ?real world? engineering issues. This Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Phase I project will demonstrate feasibility, in terms of both technology and market, of a self-sensing piezoresponsive insole. Using novel and robust technology, the insole will quantify 3D ground reaction force characteristics during various human movements, potentially assisting an American society that is aging and overweight in becoming more healthful. Research objectives will focus on the exploitation of an entirely new class of nano-composite foam sensors to capture gait characteristics that were previously only measurable in highly controlled laboratory conditions. An insole will be created with the ability to detect all necessary components of ground reaction force, while remaining almost impervious to moisture, with a very low power requirement. The technology will be configured using wireless data transfer and smart-phone apps to provide ?smart? wearables for four specific user applications: exercise analysis, video game input, physical therapy aid, and gait biofeedback. Examples of specific objectives include accurate estimates of caloric expenditure and retraining of movement patterns that are detrimental to lower-extremity musculoskeletal health. The commercial feasibility of the insole will be validated, including a large-scale manufacturability review and market testing of the beta-stage product.