The Loh Down On Science

Delicate Balance

Space-age science senses senior stability

Tomorrow's hipsters won't just have an I-PHONE, they'll have an I-SHOE!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

How does your body stay upright and keep its balance? With the help of visual cues, inner ear sensors, and the pressure felt by your feet. But our balance systems can weaken as we age, causing more frequent falls and injuries.

It's not just a senior problem: Astronauts returning from zero-gravity also suffer dizzy spells. To test their balance, NASA uses sensors that measure weight and pressure distribution.

Enter Erez Lieberman, a NASA intern and Harvard-MIT graduate student. He thought why not use space-age technology to monitor balance right here on earth?

Meet his new i-Shoe.

Sensors built into the shoe's insole collect pressure data. Lieberman's special computer algorithm analyzes the data to predict potential balance problems. The information's then relayed to the patient's doctor through a wireless computer interface.

The iShoe even has an alarm that could alert family members if Grandpa falls and can't get up.

In short, Maxwell Smart and his shoe phone. No wacky comedy gag. True.


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