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Development of a cost-effective adjustable damping sole based on magneto-rheological fluids to provide diabetics with a customizable product-service which reduces foot stress and diseases

Final Report Summary - LIQUIDSOLE (Development of a cost-effective adjustable damping sole based on magneto-rheological fluids to provide diabetics with a customisable product-service (...))

The ultimate aim of the LIQUIDSOLE project was to develop a novel ergonomic, comfortable, shock-absorbing and highly recyclable sole based on magneto-rheological (MR) fields, able to adjust its auto-shape in real time. To reduce the risk for diabetic people to develop pathologies due to repeated pressure application to the foot plant, the LIQUIDSOLE system was designed to modify the foot plant pressure patterns, thus offering a continuous relief from high pressures on localised points.

The first design which was of cutting-edge technology with sensing-actuation mechanisms targeted diabetic users; the sole equipped with different active compounds was assessed through extensive tests. The cost was medium to high level, however the performances were defined in such a way to give no compromise for the active actuation and provide automated sole stiffness tuning during use.

The second design focused on a multipurpose shoe, which was simpler and more lightweight in comparison with the shoe of the first design and it was developed both for medical and sport purposes. Through the embedded sensors the gait pattern was recognised and preventative corrections were recommended to the wearer to improve athletic performances or to reduce the risk of ulceration.

The third design was specifically addressed to runners; performances were enhanced through the opposite magnetic field, namely the load in the rear foot was sustained by dint of smarter disposition of the supporting elements and the MR fluid affecting the magnetic elements which enabled to further reduce the overall weight of the sole.

The project further aimed at the miniaturisation, reduction of product cost and at assembly durability to design industrially successful products.