According to engineers from Walk with Path , their Path Feel insoles and Path Finder shoes provide tactile feedback and visual cues to assist walking and prevent falling. The intelligent insoles and shoes are designed to assist people who suffer from peripheral neuropathy i.e. a condition brought about by a wide range of diseases, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease. Pressure sensors in the Path Feel insoles provide haptic feedback that vibrates the wearer’s foot and informs them when it is touching the ground. A companion app also gathers data in the hope of better understanding peripheral neuropathy.
The Path Finder shoes are designed specifically for Parkinson’s patients who suffer from freezing of gait i.e. a disabling clinical phenomenon that prevents people from walking or causes them to walk with extremely short steps. Lasers projected out of the shoes in a green line aim to provide visual clues to help the sufferer focus on putting one foot in front of the other.
The new shoes were unveiled at the Wearable Technology Show in London, 2016. According to the National Parkinson Foundation, 38 percent of people with Parkinson’s suffer from falls each year, while AgeUK estimates one-in-the people over the age of 65 fall over. The hope is that both the insoles and the shoes can help bring those numbers down. Both products are currently in the prototyping stage, with several London universities conducting trials. Early tests have seen some users reducing their freezing of gait by over 50 percent.