The evolution of low power electronics and the availability of new smart materials are opening new frontiers to develop wearable systems for medical applications, lifestyle monitoring, and performance detection. This paper presents the development and realization of a novel smart insole for monitoring the plantar pressure distribution and gait parameters; indeed, it includes a piezoresistive sensing matrix based on a Velostat layer for transducing applied pressure into an electric signal. At first, an accurate and complete characterization of Velostat-based pressure sensors is reported as a function of sizes, support material, and pressure trend. The realization and testing of a low-cost and reliable piezoresistive sensing matrix based on a sandwich structure are discussed. This last is interfaced with a low power conditioning and processing section based on an Arduino Lilypad board and an analog multiplexer for acquiring the pressure data. The insole includes a 3- axis capacitive accelerometer for detecting the gait parameters (swing time and stance phase time) featuring the walking. A Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 5.0 module is included for transmitting in real-time the acquired data toward a PC, tablet or smartphone, for displaying and processing them using a custom Processing® application. Moreover, the smart insole is equipped with a piezoelectric harvesting section for scavenging energy from walking. The onfield tests indicate that for a walking speed higher than 1 ms−1, the device’s power requirements (i.e., P = 5.84 mW ) was fulfilled. However, more than 9 days of autonomy are guaranteed by the integrated 380-mAh Lipo battery in the total absence of energy contributions from the harvesting section.
de Fazio R.
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