Sandra Alemany Mut, Eduardo Parrilla Bernabé, José Navarro García, Francisco Fos Ros, Francisco J. Matey González, Julio A. Vivas Vivas, Jordi Uriel Moltó, Juan Carlos González García, Nadia Campos Soriano, y Clara Blasco López
Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia
The Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia (IBV) has developed SUNfeet, completely customized comfort insoles based on cutting-edge technology which combines a precise system for capturing the shape of the foot which can be used on any smartphone, with a 3-D printing manufacturing process. The result is exclusive, customized insoles, which improve the comfort of footwear while reducing fatigue and pain in the feet.
Intense daily activity and the use of certain styles of footwear frequently result in pain and fatigue in the feet at the end of the day. Foot care is essential for preventing problems and soreness which on many occasions can even have an adverse effect on the pace of life. The use of comfort insoles mitigates these problems and helps to keep feet healthier for longer, offering greater stability, support and cushioning. Nonetheless, until now the only option available to users has been standard comfort insoles, which are normally completely flat, with a shape that does not adapt to the majority of feet.
The Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia (IBV) has developed SUNfeet, insoles which are customized to the anatomy of the user’s foot, which increase the comfort of footwear and reduce pain and fatigue in the feet.
A DEVELOPMENT BASED ON CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY
SUNfeet arose from the idea of combining the latest trends in health, technology and fashion to develop exclusive insoles which make footwear more comfortable and care for the feet, thus promoting an active lifestyle.
Innovative technology was used in their development, combining a system for capturing and digitizing the shape of the foot which is easy and intuitive for the user, and a 3-D printing system which allows insoles to be manufactured in a totally personalized manner.
The SUNfeet cellular app was designed for the 3Dcapture system, making it possible to obtain the shape of the foot extremely accurately and conveniently from any location. The process is very simple: while seated, the user places a bare foot on one side of sheet of paper, as shown in Figure 1. The app itself will guide him/her until three images of each foot are obtained. The files are then sent to a server which reconstructs the foot in 3-D, using pattern recognition and shape analysis algorithms. The 3-D image of the foot can be displayed on screen in under two minutes. Finally, the system assigns a unique identification code to each image, which will subsequently be used to design the insole and customization process.
Figure 1:The simple, accurate SUNfeet image capturing system can be carried out using a smartphone.
At the same time, this technology is also present in the manufacturing process through 3-D printing. Thanks to this new additive manufacturing process, personalized pieces with complex shapes can be produced, opening the way for more creative designs and the customization of the functional properties of resistance and flexibility, adapting them to the specific needs of each user and activity. In simple terms, additive manufacturing consists of depositing material layer by layer, to create objects on the basis of 3-D data from a model, as opposed to traditional subtractive manufacturing techniques. This manufacturing method produces less waste material and as such is also a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly technology.
The power and precision of SUNfeet technology allow for optimal customization: not only are the insoles adapted to the anatomy of the foot, but also to the characteristics and lifestyle of each user. With this in mind, three different models of insole have been created (Sports, Casual and Elegant, as listed in Table 1), taking into account the type of activity and the characteristics of the footwear in order to select the most suitable materials and thicknesses. Thus, the impact cushioning, energy return and pressure distribution requirements are adapted to each use and to the characteristics of each individual.
Table 1:Models and properties of each one of the insole models offered by SUNfeet
Figure 2:The 3-D manufacturing technology results in a unique, exclusive product,
completely adapted to the user.
These three models of insole can be customized by configuring the colors and style of the elements which make up the insole. Personalized messages can also be inscribed. With SUNfeet more than 2,000 different combinations can be generated, allowing users to design personalized comfort insoles.
Initial experiences with SUNfeet
INITIAL EXPERIENCES WITH SUNfeet
Information on the initial experiences with SUNfeet was gleaned through the product's exclusive pre-launch for Servicaixa ADESLAS in a promotional campaign for the health insurance company. The result showed high levels of satisfaction with the customized insoles among participants:
♦ Over 90% of users were highly satisfied.
♦ Over 90% said that SUNfeet insoles met their expectations for improving the comfort of their footwear.
♦ Over 85% positively rated the simplicity of the SUNfeet cellular app, the design process and web ordering.
SUNfeet represents a quantum leap in the technology developed to date for the design and manufacture of exclusive comfort insoles; the capture system along with the 3D printing and the customization options result in a product which is innovative, different, and totally in line with the style and esthetic preferences of each user.
The launch of SUNfeet is planned for early 2015. Commercial information is available on the website www.sunfeet.es and the app is available through the App Store and Google Play.