Massachusetts Patent of the Month – April 2021

As is the case with most universally used items, shoes are mass produced and suffer from an inability to be customized to a users needs. Voxel8, Inc. has developed a method to 3D print custom footwear with pressure sensors. These sensors can help in health and fitness assessments as well as determining their biomechanics such as gait.

Their shoes are printed using a dynamic ink which allows for a single integrated material with different stiffness, color, and elasticity throughout. The sensor positions will depend on the ideal use of the individual but typically expect to be placed in the heel, the outer edge of the sole, and the arch. Pressure sensors around the edge of the sole can help to determine if the person is pronating (ankle rolling in), how they place their weight, and if their running or walking form is ideal. This could be useful in training or fitness applications. Sensors in the arch could show if the arch is beginning to degrade, suggesting that new shoes are needed. These sensors would communicate with a device like your phone to pass this information along. These sensors can then contribute to the creation of the next shoe – offering insight on corrective options to create an orthopedically desired custom shoe. Alternatively, for a first-time user, they could try on a set of test-shoes with sensors which can evaluate and offer suggestions for the creation of their first pair of 3D printed shoes. 

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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