Running footwear innovation inspired by injury

The following article: Running footwear innovation inspired by injury was featured in The Northern Echo.

A runner who was injured because he was wearing the wrong shoes has created a high tech sock to help others find the right footwear.

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) has supported entrepreneur Craig Downs to develop mymo™, a wearable sock which uses artificial intelligence to gauge an athlete’s gait. By embedding electronics into the sock, Mr Downs’ company, Shoes2Run (now Mymo Group Limited), can measure how feet perform during a short walk, jog or run. Data gathered from the product is then sent to a smartphone app, via the Internet of Things.

The information can then be used to direct athletes to the most suitable footwear on the market. Mr Downs, a keen runner himself, said the right shoes minimise the risk of injury. The information can also be shared with physiotherapists and podiatrists to monitor injuries. CPI supported Mr Downs by designing and implementing electronics to log sensor measurements, as well as adding wireless integration into a smartphone app and offline tool for algorithm development.

The project builds on CPI’s strong track record in artificial intelligence through printed electronics and represents another example of its work across the Internet of Things, which connects devices via the web and allows them to send and receive data. CPI has created rolls of thin, flexible inlays containing multiple electronic components. These can be converted into labels or embedded into smart products, such as pharmaceutical packaging capable of monitoring a drug’s condition. This printed electronics work takes place at NETPark, Sedgefield, and a sister base which opened earlier this year at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

“The work on mymo™ highlights further the organisation’s expertise in printed electronics.

“This is exactly the type of project our Newton Aycliffe facility is geared towards,” said Gillian Kears-Fricker, business development manager at CPI.

“We were delighted to support Craig in the development of mymo™ and will continue working with Shoes2Run on any further developments.”

Mr Downs, whose company is based in Washington, on Wearside, received further support from the North-East Business and Innovation Centre’s (BIC) SME Innovation Programme, with Northumbria University working on an artificial intelligence algorithm for his product. The collaboration also included support from Creative Fuse North-East, the University of Sunderland, and RTC North. Mr Downs said: “After suffering an injury by wearing inappropriate shoes, I wanted to make sure other runners didn’t experience the same problem.

“By collaborating with CPI, the BIC and various other organisations, we have created this patent-pending innovation, knowing no other company is currently providing unbiased footwear recommendations via this kind of technology.”

Mr Downs hopes to launch the mymo™ product in the new year.