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‘Smart’ Insole Can Detect Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s by Analyzing Gait

Insoles are good for more than “gellin’ like Magellan,” as Dr. Scholl’s would have you believe.

Digitsole, a Nancy, France-based footwear electronics firm, has developed a connected insole that can diagnose neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s by analyzing the way people walk.

Unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, M-Cube is a “non-intrusive, efficient and economical solution” that captures 12 walking pattern parameters (WPP), including cadence, speed, impact force, stance and pronation/supination, according to Karim Oumnia, founder and CEO of Digitsole.

“There are more than 7,000 nerve endings on our foot that are directly connected to the brain, so every change in our walking pattern means something,” Oumnia said in a statement. “Each individual has WPP as unique as their DNA, and it has already been proven that many diseases are detected with WPP.”

The insole transmits the mobility data to a dedicated smartphone app that allows both the patient and designated health professionals to parse the results through an online dashboard.

Using M-Cube to establish a gait profile and monitor changes in real time is the “fastest and most effective way” to uncover mobility disorders, craft a personalized therapeutic program and evaluate the efficacy of treatment without lengthy hospital stays, Oumnia said.

To hone its technology, the company enlisted the help of Hervé Vespignani, former head of neurological and functional exploration at the Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire de Nancy.

“I collaborated to develop this solution because I know that the foot says a lot about the health of an individual,” said Vespignani. “Each person has their own walking profile, generating vital information about their health status. I am convinced that accessibility of this tool, combined with its ease of use and reliability, will make M-Cube a must for diagnosis and analysis.”

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Digitsole says it will license its technology instead of selling direct to consumer. Because M-Cube’s microprocessors are proprietary to sister company Zhor-Tech, the cost for a brand to embed the electronics rings up to only $5 per pair. For the end consumer, that may mean another $20 or $30 more at retail, Oumnia said.

M-Cube is available in U.S. men’s sizes 4 to 13 and women’s 6 to 11. Clad in water-resistant and antibacterial fabric, the insole is designed to “provide the best” for the patient’s feet, he added, including a high degree of comfort, shock absorption, hygiene and, needless to say, arch support.