OYSTER BAY, N.Y. – Companies like FeetMe and Orpyx are ready for the explosion in the smart footwear market, as aging seniors and people with diabetes and other chronic conditions use these devices to help manage their health.
“The majority of people with diabetes lose sensation in their feet, and they can’t protect themselves from pain, for example,” said Dr. Breanne Everett, CEO of Calgary-based Orpyx, which markets its sensor-embedded shoe inserts to institutions that then provide them to high-risk patients. “We can use technology to deal with these types of problems in a more preventive way.”
The smart footwear market is poised for enormous growth, driven by mHealth applications, according to a recent report by ABI Research. The report found that unit shipments of smart footwear products will rise to more than 6 million in 2021, from just 300,000 this year.
The report found that a number of aspects are driving growth in the smart footwear market, but key factors include an aging population that requires monitoring and the growth of the fitness tracking market.
“To gain adequate market share, rising vendors in the smart footwear market need to develop devices that can detect exactly how a person is walking, and provide accurate feedback concerning any issues,” the report said.
By supporting the sensors that are embedded in insoles, shoes or socks, home monitoring and remote patient management apps can track a wide variety of valuable parameters with minimal disruption to the wearer.
Orpyx’s inserts capture pressure data from the wearer as they go about their normal activities and transmit the data to a smartwatch. The smartwatch alerts the wearer when dangerous time and pressure levels are detected, so they can modify their behavior.
FeetMe, based in France, has developed sensor-embedded insoles to analyze the gait of a patient and provide valuable data to clinicians.
“For years it was only possible to do the analysis in a lab,” said FeetMe founder and CEO Alexis Mathieu. “Smart footwear can provide more information to the clinician to help develop a treatment plan.”
FeetMe insoles contain 80 pressure sensors to develop a detailed pressure map.
“Without this accuracy, it would be impossible to clearly understand the dynamic plantar pressure,” said Mathieu. “Without being intrusive, smart insoles help build a better comprehension of the problem.”