Three NUS researchers have developed wearable devices that help perform gait analysis. The four sensors installed at the toe and heel of the shoes can detect the speed, rotation and step length of the user's movement. The data is reflected in the app in real time for analysis by the therapist.
Dr Boyd Anderson, a lecturer from NUS Computing's Department of Computer Science, said: “If you are an elderly person, you may be more frail when walking, and being able to quantify that is very important. If you’re a sprinter, seeing how every step hits the track is also very important for say, optimising your performance. Traditionally, you would use a clinical gait mat which is pressure sensitive."
Medical gait mats take up space and are expensive, costing upwards of $10,000. The cost of this device however, is expected to be under $500. In addition to relying on an inertial measurement instrument to measure acceleration and rotation during movement, the device also combines ultra-wideband radio technology to collect step lengths and step widths that are difficult to measure. Its accuracy rate is 97%.
The four sensors mounted on the shoes run on lithium batteries and has a battery life of 18 hours per charge. The research team has already applied for a technology patent. They are working to bring this technology to professional athletes who are looking to improve their skills.
The team is also looking at ways to incorporate the sensors for use in various running shoes.