Cambridge (MA) – You may not need MIT’s iShoe technology now, but at a certain point in your life you are likely to be grateful for the technology Erez Lieberman is working on. His iShoe is able to detect balance problems in your feet to prevent future falls.
There are countless scenarios in which you could be facing temporary balance problems, but Lieberman’s research has a serious background. Developed as part of a program to help NASA investigate balance problems of astronauts when they return from space, the scientist said that his technology could prevent catastrophic falls of the elderly and become a technology that ultimately can avoid fatal injuries.
His iShoe is an insole equipped with a range of sensors that measure the pressure distribution throughout a foot. For the first time, there is also an algorithm that is capable of analyzing the data. Down the road, Lieberman envisions a balance diagnostic could help doctors catch balance problems before such a fall occurs.
"You have a gradual progression of loss of balance, osteoporosis, and other factors that can lead to the fall," Lieberman said. The iShoe insole therefore is developed would measure and analyze the pressure distribution of the patient's foot and report the data back to their doctor. The device could also be outfitted with an alarm that would alert family members when a fall has occurred.
Lieberman and his colleagues are now testing the device in about 60 people, hoping to generate data that will help them create a model to predict the risk of a fall.
The scientist and other iShoe team members have applied for a patent on the technology, to be jointly held by MIT, Harvard and NASA. In April, the group won a $50,000 grant from the Lunar Ventures Competition to help with company start-up costs.