The dangers seniors face from falling are well documented, and now AT&T Labs Research in Garrison Center, N.J., has a new product it hopes will help mitigate that danger: the “smart shoe.” AT&T Labs’s Robert Miller developed the shoe, which is designed to help healthcare providers detect problems with a senior’s balance and ability to walk.
Miller’s device, which was featured at this year’s American Telemedicine Association’s annual expo, consists of a specialized shoe insole equipped with a secure, AT&T broadband connection. It is currently being tested at Texas Tech University with the help of New York-based 24Eight.
The underlying technology for the smart shoe was developed by 24Eight, which also created the footpad used in the popular game “Dance Dance Fever.” Miller’s shoe includes a collection of pressure sensors to monitor balance and acceleration. When the sensors detect movements that could indicate an impending loss of balance, an electronic signal is sent to the caregiver or patient.
Miller sees his product as part of a new generation of medical devices that can monitor a range of health conditions, including blood-glucose levels, heart rate and blood pressure. “This is the leading edge of healthcare technology,” he said. “Once this becomes accepted, it creates a degree of comfort, a sort of mobility solution that can be done without thought. It becomes chic.”