Researchers at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden say they have fine-tuned a positioning system used in fire rescue operations to collect data on people's foot movements.

Data collected by sole sensors could improve diagnostics for seniors. Image source: KTHData collected by sole sensors could improve diagnostics for seniors. Image source: KTHInside their boots, many firefighters have insoles with sensors that enable emergency operations commanders to follow their movements. The system includes an accelerometer, gyroscope and a processor, and can withstand shock and high temperatures; it remains operational where GPS positioning systems fail. In addition to saving lives in emergencies, it can also be used to help senior citizens maintain their mobility and independence (see video).

The researchers will work with a group of senior citizens to test a version of the system designed to collect additional data that produces a detailed picture of foot movements. These special insoles could be placed in ordinary shoes to gather data about a person’s steps. Doctors could see how forces are distributed in the foot, and detect problems such as early-stage Parkinson’s. The data can indicate the need for mobility aids before additional problems surface.

The module, available under an Open Source License, is now marketed by GT Silicon in Kanpur, India.

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