Innovation for Independence

Path - Walk with Confidence

Publish date:
16/01/2015 - 12:41am
Last updated:
16/01/2015 - 12:41am

Path is intelligent footwear that provides triggers to stimulate walking, increase confidence and reduce the risk of falls. Path provides a non-invasive and intuitive solution, that enhances tactile feedback and acts as a walking aid for people with mobility issues caused by injury, diabetes, ageing, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or Parkinson’s Disease (PD) among others. The objective of Path is to keep users mobile for longer and increase independence. Path gives active feedback through the sole of the foot using vibration, and projects visual cues that guide and highlight obstacles on the surface in front of the user. Visual cues are proven to stimulate movement, and together with the tactile feedback, can better aid balance and posture. The vibrational feedback is provided through an insole, that is customised to fit the user and integrated into the user’s own shoes. Recent research indicates that vibrations can aid rehabilitation and reduce the risk of falls for people who suffer from reduced sensitivity through the sole of the feet. Falls are the leading cause of death by injury amongst the elderly. The falls are typically caused by poor balance or an irregular gait, which in turn is often caused by diminished sensation in the feet. Path aims to give sensation back to users through the use of active feedback whilst walking.

Insight & Impact

The idea is developed by Lise Pape using a user centred approach and working closely together with patients with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Lise has personal experience with PD as her father has had the disease for over ten years. Path seeks to increase confidence for the wearer, reduce the risk of falls and create greater independence, through the use of tactile feedback and visual cues. The consequences of falling are significant, resulting in injury, reduced activity levels and poor quality of life. The psychological consequences can be as disabling as the fall itself, causing a lack of confidence which leads to lesser mobility. According to AgeUK, 1 in 3 people aged 65 and over fall each year. Evidence shows that this risk can be cut by up to 55% if people exercise to improve strength and balance. The risk of falls is also high for people with neuropathy, MS and PD. Path offers the opportunity to reduce falls by up to 50%. The insole technology for active feedback is new and there is no similar product on the market today. It integrates into the user’s daily life, is non-invasive and can be used in the wearer’s own shoes. Visual cue guidance is used for PD patients today, typically via augmented reality glasses or projected from a mobility aid. Path integrates into the user’s shoes, providing a less invasive and more intuitive solution.

Skills needed for this project

  • People with diseases that may benefit from Path
  • Footwear construction and production
  • Medical research
  • Electronics expertise