Smart socks keep watch over diabetics' feet

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Researchers test a prototype SenseGO sock(Credit: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

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Many diabetics have limited feeling in their feet, and thus aren't aware when pressure is being exerted on one area of the foot for a prolonged period. As a result, they can develop chronic skin ulcers or other injuries, which can in turn sometimes lead to amputations. That's why a team from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is creating SenseGO – pressure-monitoring electronic socks.

As things currently stand, diabetics are advised to regularly get their feet checked to see if any ulcers are forming. The SenseGO socks are intended to alert wearers before that formation even begins, so no healing time or medications are required.

Each of the machine-washable socks contains dozens of micro-fabricated pressure sensors, linked to a microprocessor. When those sensors detect excessive pressure in one or more areas, the wearer is alerted by an app on their smartphone. That alert will display the affected region of the foot, so that the user can change their posture, get better-fitting shoes, or otherwise address the situation as needed.

While there are already pressure-sensing insoles, they simply provide "flat" readings of the sole of the foot only.

There's currently no word on when a final version of the SenseGO socks might be commercially available. Once they are, however, they may face some competition from a similar product being developed in Germany by Fraunhofer.

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