Scanning the foot with your hand

A cloud of coordinates (x,y,z coordinates) forming the visualization af the ‘scanned’ foot. (Photo: Fontys)

Four years ago, we reported for the first time on a Dutch research project to develop a glove equipped with sensors. This should make it possible to digitally map the tactile information that is recorded via the examiner's hand when taking measurements. A symposium was held this summer to present the current state of development.

Almost 40 students and more than 30 experts have been working on several research questions within this project. The partner consortium is still growing because more and more pedorthists show their interest in being members of this project consortium.

The research in this high-tech instrument has two goals. The first goal is to methodically make explicit and validate the implicit knowledge that pedorthist have gained throughout many years of experience. The first steps were taken to explain what is done by the pedorthist using his implicit (tacit) knowledge to get to the design of the cast and shoe, using video-recordings made during the casting process. The second goal is to renew the fitting – casting process. With this new method, the plaster cast of the foot is replaced by a digital representation of the geometry of the foot. This glove is instrumented with position and pressure sensors. The practitioner drapes the gloves over the foot. The sensors measure exactly where the fingers are. The force with which a practitioner presses the foot is also recorded. With these two aspects (position and pressure), it will be possible to have the quantified data needed to design an even better tailored device.

In June this year, a mid-term (on-line) symposium was organized to inform all consortium members and partners about the status quo. “What was presented is very promising and progressive” says Fred Holtkamp from Fontys University . “We have shown that we can illustrate a foot in a digital way by using the proposed position sensors. Adding the pressure to this illustration is the next step, as well as the graphical representation of the data. This will be done in the months ahead.”

More about the project in the upcoming issue of foot&shoe.