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"Development of a running shoe with embedded electronics providing real time biomechanical feedback to reduce injury risk and enhance motivation, and a web portal allowing real training management."

Final Report Summary - RUNSAFER (Development of a running shoe with embedded electronics providing real time biomechanical feedback to reduce injury risk and enhance motivation, and a web portal allowing real training management.)

Executive Summary:
Running has become one of the most popular sports in the last years. The number of runners in Europe is over 80 million, which is roughly 36 percent of the European population for 15 - 65-year-olds taking to the streets, parks, forests, and gyms. This sport activity has been found to have a positive impact on depression, physical fitness, muscular strength, osteoporosis, blood pressure, obesity, and a variety of other measures of health. Moreover, it does not require the purchase or use of expensive equipment and it does not require special abilities.
However, many people start practicing running and then stop. Injuries are the main reason not to run for approximately the 60% of European runners. 38% of the European runners have, or have suffered a running injury, and between 37 and 56% of recreational runners become injured at least once each year. Moreover, 20-70% of injuries are likely to re-occur.
Most of these causes (training errors, incorrect running pattern, etc.) induce several biomechanical parameters to reach their limit values. By measuring those biomechanical parameters and giving a feedback to the runner (during running) in order to correct them when necessary, running injuries could be avoided. Moreover, such running injuries could be prevented suggesting personalized training programmes for the runner developed by experts in the field, and offering personalized recommendation based on runner biomechanical parameters.
The main objective of RUNSAFER project is the development of a running shoe with embedded electronics providing real time biomechanical feedback, through the smartphone of the runner, to reduce injury risk and enhance motivation, and a web portal allowing real training management.

Project Context and Objectives:
The RUNSAFER Project ('Development of a new running shoe with embedded electronics providing real time biomechanical feedback to reduce injury risk and enhance motivation, and a web portal allowing real training management') has been founded by the European Commission through the VII Framework Programme in order to develop a new wearable technology to avoid injuries while running.
For that purpose, the consortium of the project has developed a prototype running shoe with an integrated device that improves training management and prevents injuries. The RUNSAFER system provides information in real time about biomechanical and physiological parameters of the runner. The information is wireless transmitted to the mobile phone while running. A mobile phone application informs in real time the runner about the planned activity and performance achieved, suggesting modifications on the activity to change the running pattern in order to avoid running injuries. The mobile phone application also integrates additional worthy information as heart rate or GPS positioning. After the running activity, the runner is able to download all the generated running information in a web portal. This web portal allows the generation of training plans, recommendations and the follow up of the training improvements. Moreover, this web includes web 2.0 functionalities, allowing the user to be in contact with other runners worldwide.
The consortium has been composed by the technology centres IBV (ES), IPMS-Fraunhofer (GE) and EII (EST), as well as the firms KELME (ES), NUROMEDIA (GE) and DUKOSI (UK).

Project Results:
During the project have been developed the following 6 Results:

- RESULT 1. Inductive charger specially designed to send energy through inductive coupling to an electrical device, which stores the energy in the batteries.
- RESULT 2. Wireless transmission system, developed in order to send the data measured in the shoe to the mobile phone.
- RESULT 3. Integrated microelectronics product through a sensor system to be embedded in the running shoes, which measures and gathers biomechanical parameters and variables characterizing runners’ running pattern.
- RESULT 4. Running shoe with optimum biomechanical properties for running (i.e. cushioning, flexibility, stability, friction, support and comfort) and able to integrate all the technology developed, not interfering the performance of the shoe.
- RESULT 5. Android mobile phone application able to receive and analyse the data sent by the running shoe, presenting results in real time and giving feedback to the runner.
- RESULT 6. The web portal and user network providing different services to runners related to injury prevention and training control, incorporating an expert system (designed by biomechanical and sports experts) to fit training plans to the characteristics and needs of runners, as well as traditional features more focused on recreational applications.
The objective of RUNSAFER has been to obtain a functional prototype of the product-service system: (1) measuring system (hardware system) (WP2), (2) footwear (WP3) and ICT system and software (WP4). The specifications and knowledge gathered in PHASE1 has been the base of the developments on this phase. The measuring system development has been led by IPMS (WP2), which has wide experience across different microelectronics fields, supported by DUKOSI. A combined approach taking benefit of already existing developments has been applied to achieve a small and robust device including a wireless transmission system. In parallel, a high quality running shoe has been developed by IBV led by KELME (WP3), a leader sports company with proven experience in R&D. The design and validation of each component (upper, sole, midsole and insole) has been carried out to achieve a high performance running shoe with the embedded microelectronic system. The midsole has been designed to allocate the measuring and transmission system developed in WP2, and finished with a validation of the complete running shoe prototype through tests with the participation of 60 runners of different European nationalities. Finally, the ICT system development (WP4) has been led by EII, with wide experience in information and telecommunication technologies, including information processing, open source software developing, mobile computing and applied mathematics. Supported by NUROMEDIA, the firmware to treat, analyze and transmit the biomechanical data has been developed by EII in main four blocks: (1) the application and device drivers of the microcontroller embedded in the sole, (2) the mobile phone application, (3) the PC-based drivers which will allow the mobile phone to interface with the Web application and (4) the Web portal that will provide training and feedback services based on collected data from the user.
As a result of the project, RUNSAFER system has been successfully developed. The system consists of a new running shoe, a mobile phone application and a web portal, designed to prevent injuries, providing control of training to European runners. This is far beyond the state of the art as there is currently no system available with the same functions: capable to measure on the foot the main biomechanical variables in running and to give feedback to the runner in real time concerning injury prevention and training control.

Potential Impact:
Sports injuries in general can result in associated economic costs to the individual and society, and running injuries are unfortunately not an exception to this. Between 20 and 70% of running injuries require medical consultation and up to 5% result in absence from work.
The development of this cost-effective new running shoe will therefore help millions of European runners to get injured less often, improve their running patterns and training, reducing the rate of injuries, helping them to be more healthy, improving musculoskeletal health, controlling body weight and reducing high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, and stress, making running safer and more attractive.
Thanks to RUNSAFER system, it is expect that in the short-medium term (about six years after the project implementation) a reduction of running injuries, improving health for approximately 120,000 European citizens, avoiding the reduction of training or training cessation of 72,000 European runners, supporting the prevention of 120,000 injuries and reducing more than 6,000 absences from work.
Relating strategic issues of the project, the Marketing Plan has been defined, including the description of the RUNSAFER system; the customer needs and benefits related to the RUNSAFER system; and a description of the competitive environment, with a list of existing solutions that are partially similar to the RUNSAFER concept. Furthermore, the Exploitation Plan includes a description of the exploitable results of the project, the description of the Business Model Canvas of the product, the financial projections in commercialisation, the commercial risks and solutions to overcome them, and additional benefits for the SME partners.
Several actions have been performed for disseminating the RUNSAFER project along the time. The logo and the website of the project (www.runsafer.eu) were prepared at the first months. A flyer and poster containing basic information of RUNSAFER system has been designed and printed. Companies of the consortium have showed the poster and distribute flyers in several fairs (ISPO and MEDICA) during the development of the project. In order to facilitate dissemination through web and TV, the consortium has prepared a video clip of RUNSAFER system showing the main features of the device (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8iJs1StNO0). Articles have been published in magazines and newspapers (Levante, Bild and Revista de Biomecánica). RUNSAFER Project has been also presented in two biomechanical congresses. Several magazines, newspaper, TV channels, radio channels and websites published some articles, interviews and reports about the project. More than 100 impacts on different press media have been registered including information of the project.

List of Websites:

Information about RUNSAFER project is available at its public website: www.runsafer.eu. For any suggestion, please contact Nicolás Palomares (nicolas.palomares@ibv.upv.es) from IBV.