Smart shoes prevent injury by alerting runners to their bad habits

Athletes running up hill

When someone trains for a running event for the first time, they are prone to jogging in ways that will hurt their body in the long run. Experienced runners make mistakes too, whether they sprain an ankle or just push past their limits.

A project out of the German research organization Fraunhofer aims to prevent many common injuries by helping runners identify and correct harmful running techniques. Researchers created a shoe studded with sensors, GPS and accelerometers that logs running data and then makes it available for review via a smartphone app. They plan to make it commercially available in early 2015.

Smart running shoe

“The app could recommend running more slowly, for example, or rolling off the foot differently, suggest seeking a different running surface or stopping if necessary,” scientist Andreas Heinig said in a release.

Heinig said this is an improvement over chest straps and watches, which monitor vital signs like a person’s pulse and breathing rate. The shoe would also have to compete with a growing number of sensor patches, which can monitor vital signs and other factors, such as exertion, via sweat. Startup Heapsylon has also created sensor-laden socks in the past.

The researchers have created an app and prototype of the shoe. Now they plan to make the electronics and sensors smaller, but still waterproof, light and durable.

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