Friday, March 12, 2010

Falls Prevention: The iShoe

Lieberman-Aiden is a student at (Massachuusetts Institute of Tecnology (MIT) and has invented a prototype high-tech shoe insole (the iShoe) to help older people manage their balance. Using digital sensors and Bluetooth technology the "iShoe" sneaker insoles track a person's balance patterns. The battery-powered footbeds transmit data about a person's walking and standing stability to computers for analysis. Inspiration for the iShoe came after the inventor lost his grandmother after a fall. Keen to prevent falls in others while working at NASA, he discovered a project where scientists were trying to analyze astronaut balance in low-gravity environments. He recognised how a similar process to diagnose balance could be used in falls prevention. Falls are often caused by shifts in body mass and the iShoe generates data including how much a person shifts their body mass while standing. Well-balanced person shift weight every 40 seconds or so whereas people with potentially dangerous balance problems constantly shift their weight. Lieberman-Aiden was recently awarded the Lemelson-MIT Collegiate Student Prize of $30,000 US prize in innovation from MIT. The invention is still in the research-and-development phase, but the inventor is hopeful it will become a consumer product within a few years.

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