As part of the EU's SMILING project to help elderly people recover a stable walking gait, Holst Centre, an open-innovation initiative by IMEC (B) and TNO (NL), will create a body sensor solution that can measure and assess an individual's gait parameters.

SMILING (Self Mobility Improvement in the eLderly by counteractING falls) is an EU-sponsored project under FP7's theme "ICT for independent living and inclusion". Many elderly people develop a poor gait, whether through injury or lack of exercise, which can increase the chances of them losing their balance and falling.

The SMILING project aims to help people improve their gait and balance through a rehabilitation program based on an intelligent shoe concept. Holst Centre's contribution to the project is an innovative miniaturized, wireless sensor platform. This will be attached to a person's shoes to analyze their gait as part of the assessment process for developing a tailored rehabilitation program.

The sensor platform is derived from Holst Centre's Human++ Body Area Network technology. The solution contains an accelerometer, 3 gyroscopes (for roll, yaw and pitch, an embedded micro-controller, a low-power 2.4 GHz radio link with 10 m range, an SD-card for local data storage and a battery allowing for over 24 hours of autonomy. All the electronics are contained in a small package that attaches to the back of the shoe, making it highly wearable.

With these electronics, it is possible to measure the movements of each foot. The parameters measured are 3-axis acceleration and rotation. The solution supports synchronized data acquisition from multiple sensors and features an embedded algorithm to detect walking phases. In a benchmark test, the sensors proved to have a 93.2% sensitivity for walking phase detection compared to the standard that was used (a pressure insole system).

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