Printed sensors take the pressure off runners’ coaches

Printed sensors take the pressure off runners’ coaches

Technology News |
By Julien Happich

Promising printed electronics on anything, with volume-ready production capacity for fine-pitch screen printing of functional circuitry, Christiaens unveiled the company’s roadmap, combining substrates such as PET, paper, textiles, metal or glass together with special-purpose stretchable inks for the design of sensors, actuators, batteries, displays, or even NFC circuits.

Source: Quad Industries
NFC temperature logger

Typically, the company partners with customers to help them develop a working prototype for their project, to follow up with volume production. Quad Industries is a recent licensee for manufacturing Enfucell’ SoftBattery, giving the company more flexibility to integrate custom designed batteries in its customers’ projects. An example put forward in Christiaens’ presentation included a temperature logger consisting of a temperature sensor chip from NXP mounted onto a thin PET foil printed with a complementary battery, NFC antenna and all necessary interconnections.

Pressure sensing insole developed in
collaboration with medilogic

Another interesting example was the insole developed in collaboration with the German company medilogic, offering wireless dynamic recording of the pressure load under the foot inside the shoe, either for rehabilitation or training. For this insole, the company used silver and carbon inks to print capacitive sensors across several plies of textile, totalling 14 sensing areas that connect to a wearable reading device.

The R&D Director would not share the pressure range, only hinting that because each application is custom-designed, the measurement ranges and sensor cells would be tailored for any given application, with the flat-cable layout design maybe the only limiting factor.

However, insole pressure measurement may become a growing business if customer and partner ATO-gear succeeds in its mission to revolutionize the world of fitness wearables for runners.

Last week, at IDTechEx’ Printed Electronics conference taking place in Berlin, Quad Industries showcased another implementation of pressure sensors, this time, resistive-based for ATO-gear’s ARION pressure sensitive insole. Embedding 8 pressure sensors at strategic locations, the insole takes thousands of snapshots per second of the runner’s foot to measure the way the foot rolls-off the ground.

Opening up ATO-gear’s ARION pressure sensitive insole.

The data is sent via a Bluetooth transmitter add-on to the wearer’s smartphone, were the ARION app performs a gait-line analysis using patented algorithms and methodologies.

The app then provides the user with easy to understand metrics and coaching advice to enhance his/her performance, for example to run faster or farther, or to reduce the risk of injury. This real-time feedback lets runners adapt their running technique on-the-fly.

The Dutch startup plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign for its ARION platform, expecting full commercial release by late summer 2016. It has already secured some partnerships with a select group of specialist retailers and athletes as part of its product development strategy and is extending its presence throughout specialist running shops across Western-Europe.

At shoe specialist retailers, the ARION system can be used for gait-analyses and to analyse running technique in order to advise shoes matching the runner’s running style. The runner is no longer limited to a treadmill or short run up and down the store, but instead, can go for an actual run (storing the data in a cloud environment for later interpretation at the shop).

Quad Industries –

ATO-gear –

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