These Arduino Gemma-based sneakers will make your run more fun with less injuries!
Like 75% of runners, Maker Lisa Kusaka is an avid jogger, but doesn’t enjoy it so much without her extensive playlist of music. One day, she noticed that certain songs seemed to suit her pace better than others, becoming a natural and entertaining pace keeper. With this in mind, RunBeat was born.
Developed while at SLEM (an international innovation and education institute for footwear located in the Netherlands), it is a smart insole that measures your running pace and generates music with the same beats per minute to match your stride. The system consists of a pressure sensor embedded into the insole beneath the ball of the foot to promote proper running form. The sensor reads the impact of each step and sends the data over to an Arduino Gemma (ATtiny85) located in the shoe’s arch.
This pace data is also transmitted to an accompanying mobile app via Bluetooth. This app then selects the tunes based on the preferred genre and the current running pace. What’s nice is that, since all of the technology is located in a 3D-printed insole and not the sneaker itself, RunBeat is compatible with just about every running shoe on the market.
On top of that, fellow SLEM classmate Chrissy Glove recently came up with an idea to improve the running experience as well. This time, instead of pairing beats to stride, the maker wanted to create a wearable device that would help improve form. Having dealt with injuries throughout her own career, she was well aware as to how imperative injury prevention is to any runner. So, she decided to develop a smart sneaker that would detect improper form in three ways: by recognizing when a runner’s gait differed from their norm, suggesting a forefoot foot strike and detecting the precise location of an injury when one strikes.
The aptly named Strike features a side lacing system to relieve pressure from the tendons on the top of the foot, while Adafruit NeoPixel lights allow for nighttime safety and easy notification. Glove attached an Velostat sensor in the heel pad to an Arduino Gemma (ATtiny85) and a piezo buzzer. These electronics, along with a battery, are all enclosed inside a 3D-printed insole.
The Maker wrote some code that would read the pressure sensor as input, and in turn produce a different effect with the LEDs and piezo buzzer accordingly. For example, when the runner strikes with their heel, they will feel a buzz to alert them so they can modify their footstrike to be more forefoot. Additionally, the shoe records the wearer’s normal foot strike pattern and stores it in its internal memory. This way, should the runner happen to stray away from his or her natural gait, they will be warned in similar fashion.
Beyond that, Glove included electrodes in the shoe that could read the nerve endings on the bottom of the runner’s foot. As a precaution should they get hurt, Strike can better determine the exact location of the injury by buzzing in a varying sequence and illuminating the red LEDs.