From Automotive Safety To Smart Footwear Sensors

Tobias Meyer, pictured, is New Business Development Manager at IEE (Photo © Stephanie Jabardo)

IEE’s most widely used innovation is the occupant detection for seat belt reminder systems that trigger an alarm when car passengers don’t buckle up. Experts in smart sensing solutions, IEE is also applying its knowhow to smart health. Focusing on gait sensors, the tech company, which is headquartered in Bissen and has a production facility in Echternach, was among three joint calls to be accepted by Luxembourg’s first call for health technologies projects.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” said Tobias Meyer, New Business Development Manager at IEE. “Luxembourg is investing money and effort to increase the health tech market, to gain knowledge and not only attract companies but to attract start-ups by providing help.”

The €1.5m envelope will help IEE to develop a wearable GAIT and activity monitoring solution, in collaboration with LIH and CHL. 

The two-and-a-half-year project will seek to validate IEE’s footwear sensors and subsequent wearable devices which detect when patients perform abnormal activities which could hinder recovery after an injury or surgery.

The aim of the technology is to gather patient gait metrics and make it available to medical practitioners so they can have a clearer picture of the patient’s activity and propose appropriate treatments. 

“Feet are your main contact to the environment and gait is unique to every person, even more unique than a fingerprint,” Meyer said, adding: “If you start limping, your balance is off, so not only are you in pain but you also need more energy to walk. Your whole body shifts, and this then causes problems in the knees, hips, shoulders and back.” 

“Feet are your main contact to the environment and gait is unique to every person, even more unique than a fingerprint”

Tobias Meyer, New Business Development Manager at IEE

The data generated by the sensors will be essential for health professionals to offer more adapted and personalised therapies when treating patients with sport injuries, arthritis, or following hip surgery, for instance, improving their recovery and rehabilitation. The technology is particularly useful in monitoring the gait of elderly and infirm patients, among whom falls are a major cause of fatality.

You can also detect slowly progressive changes in a person’s gait that can be triggered by a disease, like for example diabetes. Diabetic patients can develop a neuropathy and lose complete feeling in the foot, and most of them start changing their gait,” said Meyer.  

As part of the project, the technology will be tested on healthy subjects, to validate gait metrics against gold standard data. Afterwards IEE will do a short clinical trial with experts in sports and sports injuries. 

Further in the future, Meyer hopes that the technology would be complemented with AI functionality that can tell the patient directly when there is a problem that needs urgent attention from a healthcare professional. 

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