What could be simpler than putting on your socks in the morning? Well, if you have diabetes, a new company called Siren Care is hoping that your socks will soon be on the front lines of detecting issues cropping up from diabetic foot injuries. By keeping careful track of foot temperature over time, the socks – which transmit information via a sensor to the Siren Care app – are able to detect early signs of foot damage.
“I don’t see ourselves as a diabetic foot company. I think we’re a data company and next-generation wearables,” founder Ran Ma said. “The next generation will be targeted toward chronic disease, aging, health management — and also in a way that’s designed to fit into your lives. Instead of having bands, it should be the clothes you wear every day.”
In a similar fashion, Socks 2.0 from Sensoria are taking athletic tracking to new heights. Each Sensoria smart sock is infused with three proprietary textile sensors under the plantar area (bottom of the foot) to detect foot pressure. The conductive fibers relay data collected by the sensors to the anklet. The sock has been designed to function as a textile circuit board. As you train, the socks record pace, distance, speed, and time – as well as track routes via GPS. Because they are directly at the point of impact, they can also pick up unique cadence data alongside foot landing and impact forces exerted by the runner.
Finally, in the category of very tiny but very smart socks, there is Owlet. Every parent knows the anxiety of listening for a newborn during the night. Rather than relying on just a sound monitor or video, the Owlet comfortably wraps around the baby’s foot providing real-time data analysis. The Owlet uses clinically proven technology called pulse oximetry, miniaturized into a snuggly smart sock that your little one wears to bed at night. Data is sent from the smart sock via Bluetooth to the base station, located on the parents’ nightstand, sounding an alarm if anything unusual occurs with the child’s breathing and heart rate.
Maybe someday we’ll wonder how we ever put up with unconnected clothing draped all over our bodies. Moving forward, we probably will still have to put our socks on one at time, but it’s likely that they will be a whole lot smarter. As costs continue to decline and applications proliferate – the potential for intelligent clothing to transform healthcare will literally knock your socks off. Now if someone could only make socks that automatically go in the hamper!
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