Making Future Industries

Smart Shoes: Motivating Elders to Walk Longer and SaferSmart Shoes: Motivating Elders to Walk Longer and Safer

 

The Project  

Inadequate physical activity in older individuals can hasten physical and cognitive decline associated with ageing, and increase the risk of falling. Although technology is widely used among younger adults, much less attention has been paid to how technology can benefit elderly people, despite the potential benefits of technology for this growing sector of the population. For example, smartphones equipped with pedometers that count walking steps have been successful in motivating younger adults to meet daily walking goals.

Although walking is an effective mode of physical activity, most elderly people do not walk far, highlighting a potential need to develop individualised walking goals and motivation strategies for an older age bracket. This pilot study looks at continuous monitoring of walking ability, combined with personalised feedback and alerts of possible falls for elderly individuals. 

The customised smart shoes will be equipped with force sensors, distance/position transducers, and accelerometers, which will detect centre of mass movement, foot clearance from the floor, changes in walking patterns and smoothness of lower-limb motion. Analysis of walk ability will be based on the real-time analysis of sensors readings and database from our previous research. The smart shoes will communicate wirelessly with a display device, offering individualised feedback to motivate the elderly to walk more, and to walk safer. The shoes will also send audio signals to alert the wearer when a possible fall is predicted (e.g. too little foot clearance when negotiating stairs). 

The Researchers

This project brings together experts in a number of different fields.

Dr Chiu Chun Winson Lee, School of Mechanical, Materials, Mechatronics & Biomedical, Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences

Dr Rahim Mutlu, School of Mechanical, Materials, Mechatronics & Biomedical, Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences

Prof Julie Steele, School of Medicine, Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health

Dr Robyn Coman, School of Health and Society, Faculty of Social Sciences

Prof Gursel Alici, School of Mechanical, Materials, Mechatronics & Biomedical, Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences

Dr Sheikh Solaiman, School of Law, Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts

External partner: Dr Wing Kai Lam, Li Ning Sports Science Research Center
 

Last reviewed: 31 January, 2018