A loss of feeling in the feet can have serious consequences, especially with patients with diabetic neuropathy. Such patients, who are unable to sense pressure on the feet often develop serious wounds that can lead to gangrene and amputations. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research in Würzburg and Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits in Erlangen, Germany have created a prototype pressure monitoring stocking that can let the wearer know when to change positions, take a rest, or keep on walking.
The stocking has 40 elastic sensors that combine their data to create a map of the pressure forces applied to the feet. There have been smart shoe soles that measure pressure on the bottom of the foot, but the new device covers a significantly greater area, including the the ankle and top of the foot.
The sensors are made of silicone film with flexible electrodes making the electric connection. The control unit is still a little bulky and is attached to the stocking, but the researchers are working on miniaturizing it and making it detachable. They’re also planning to test whether the stocking can take a washing, since unlike most other electronic devices this one will get stinky.