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I-Sport: How smart shoes powered by smart integrated electronic devices can enhance our sport activities

Can electronic systems effectively improve your athletic skills, whether you’re a professional or a passionate runner? To try to answer to this question, let’s look at this recently introduced solution.

<>Smart Shoes

The basic idea of this technology is to monitor a runner’s biorhythms to find the perfect setting in terms of performance and physical condition, maximizing the quality of each training session. How is it possible?

With electronic sensors inserted in the smart shoes, physical parameters like acceleration, pressure, and speed as well as biological parameters of the runner—the level of oxygenation and the pressure level of the blood and the body temperature—can be measured, recorded, and analyzed. During a training session the speed and acceleration of a runner might vary, depending on the type of training. A microcontroller integrated in the smart shoes, as well as a set of smart sensors could elaborate the data of the athlete’s biological conditions of the athlete cross-referencing this information with the type of training performed.

The key for the effectiveness of a smart shoe is the mechanism for adapting the smart electronic system to the biological condition of a person: smart shoes are a huge-potential concept for enhancing athletic performance (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

The Smart Shoes basic idea: shoes, soles, app, and pods (Source: Lechal.com)

The Smart Shoes basic idea: shoes, soles, app, and pods (Source: Lechal.com)

Recently the Lechal company, a brand name fully owned by Ducere Technologies Pvt. Ltd, a startup based in Hyderabad, India, has launched the world’s first haptic footwear offering hands-free navigation by way of gentle vibrations emanating from the insoles. Their products contain microcontrollers, MEMS sensors, Bluetooth connectivity and power management devices from STMicroelectronics.

Figure 2

The MEMS 3D integrated gyroscope L3GD20H by STMicroelectronics (source: STMicroelectronics web)

The MEMS 3D integrated gyroscope L3GD20H by STMicroelectronics (source: STMicroelectronics web)

Lechal means ‘’take me along,’’ and with haptic, or vibratory, feedback to the soles of the feet, that is what its footwear does. A pair of pods—each weighing just 22g—snapped into the insoles or the shoes, is connected to the Lechal app to set the destination, create custom workouts, and much more. Interaction with the pods is achieved by swiping their textured surface. The vibrations are like a tap on your shoulder, and you can control their intensity and customize the patterns. The pods last for 15 days on a single charge.

The simplest pods contain basic motion sensors and provide outdoor and offline navigation modes, basic fitness metrics and pre-defined gesture features. Other pods might contain state-of-the art 3D motion, altitude and temperature sensors such as the L3GD20H to offer dynamic gestures, advanced fitness metrics, smart self-updating fitness parameters, 3D motion tracking, and activity detection.

While Lechal footwear was initially created to help the visually impaired get around more easily, it has evolved into a solution for anyone who wants to track fitness goals. (See Figure 3).

Figure 3

The Lechal project (source: Lechal/features)

The Lechal project (source: Lechal/features)

What do you think of the smart shoes project? Do you think that it can really improve the quality of life of the user? Would you buy a pair of smart shoes for your sport activities? What do you think of the Lechal solution?

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