Running has become one of the most popular types of endurance sport in Europe. Although running is considered to be especially healthy, the number of running injuries is growing steadily. These are typically due to excessive stress or overdoing things and range from cramps and sore muscles to knee pain and torn tendons, or even pulled muscles, overextensions and, in the worst case, torn ligaments.
The EU-funded “Runsafer” project, launched in September 2012, aims to develop a prototype running shoe with an integrated microelectronic system that can measure the athlete's biomechanical data during running in order to analyze running technique in real time and warn the runner if it detects incorrect foot orientation or overloading. The data will be sent wirelessly to the runner's mobile phone, where an app will provide real-time feedback on training performance and suggest adjustments to the runner's motion pattern to prevent unbalanced stress and resulting injuries. The data will also be sent to a web-based portal for post-processing and further analysis during the training session.
Fulfilling these requirements requires a sophisticated system that can deliver ultra-precise readings and is durable, lightweight and comfortable. Price is also a key factor for the commercial success of the system. These aspects are being addressed by Fraunhofer IPMS as the lead research organization, along with the Estonian Innovation Institute and the Institute of Biomechanics in Valencia (Spain). The participants on the industry side are Kelme and Bkool (Spain), Dukosi (United Kingdom) and Nuromedia (Germany).