The development are smart socks with implemented pressure sensors and the visualization of the measured results after an individual calibration.
It looks like a normal sock, feels like a sock and is easily washable in the machine. A Saxon development, the smart sock, has a decisive advantage over conventional socks, it can communicate. Eight ultra-thin pressure sensors, embedded in a gel layer between two textile layers, report pressure distribution and acceleration of the foot to an App. Thus, after e.g. a cruciate ligament fracture, the leg can be physically loaded to 30% in a controlled way as prescribed by the physician. With a mini-computer that can be connected with the sock, it shows the wearer/ patient how he strains his feet using real-time data. If the load is too high or unilateral, the App will be alarming. Up to now, such measurements have only been carried out in the laboratory via plates embedded in the soil. With the smart sock, measurements can be carried out not only on the move, but also in everyday life. The integrated electronics of the sock measure the pressure distribution and acceleration at the foot. This allows conclusions to be drawn on parameters such as one-sided loads. The corresponding App has a graphical user interface that displays processed data in real time on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. In this way users can see exactly which foot area is stressed too much. If this happens, the App generates an alarm. Sensors also detect humidity and temperature. This opens up areas of application in pain and accident therapy, but also in performance and recreational sport.
The smart sock project was financed by the Chemnitz University of Technology and Strumfpwerk LINDNER® GmbH. For the next steps – certification, mass production and marketing – partners and financial sponsorship are searched.
Evidence of success
The results of the GP are a perfect example how the combination of two technology fields (textile technology, sensor technology with microelectronics) leads to new products and business cases with highly public interest and manifold application fields. As success factors can be seen: new products with enhanced performance, the opening up new markets with innovative smart textiles and an improved medical treatment speeding up the healing process and preventing additional diseases.
It is expected that it will be difficult to sell that product in Germany as a medical device, because it will take a long and bureaucratic way to get all the certificates needed for the required CE certification.
Potential for learning or transfer
Following the current market growth in smart textiles, the development of the intelligent sock has great potential to be launched successfully on the market. On the one hand, the focus in smart textiles will be on developments for the health care sector and biomedical applications which have been forecasted being one of the fastest growing end-use markets. On the other hand no special high-tech equipment is required and the technology is reproducible and can be transferred to other application fields.