March 2022

TECHNOLOGY TAKES TEMPERATURE OF THE FEET OF DIABETICS

Don Samitha Elvitigala, PhD, with GymSoles, another interface technology for the feet developed as part of his PhD thesis. Image courtesy of ABI.

Researchers at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI), New Zealand, received funding to do a pilot study to trial a portable temperature-sensing technology they developed to detect the early signs of complications of the feet among people with diabetes. The prototype technology, FootSense, is a low-cost device designed for home-based monitoring, to detect early signs of foot complications. It does this by measuring asymmetries in temperature.

The novel device was originally developed by Don Samitha Elvitigala, PhD, as an undergraduate student in Sri Lanka. He is one of a team led by Associate Professor Suranga Nanayakkara, PhD, who moved to New Zealand from Singapore in 2018, to establish the Augmented Human Lab at ABI.

FootSense has been improved since its earlier iteration to be more user-friendly. Patients stand on a platform that scans and maps subtle temperature differences. The research grant will enable the researchers to trial the device by working with a podiatry clinic in Auckland, and with real patients.

“Patients who come to the clinic, will get their feet scanned, and we can use that data to improve the efficacy of the device,” said Elvitigala. “The next step would be thinking about how we can make them available—how to manufacture them in an affordable way.”

Elvitigala has also developed several other technologies for the feet for his thesis, including GymSoles, a smart-insole that provides real-time feedback about the center of pressure to help people exercise (such as squats and weigh-lifting exercises) correctly, and StressFoot, designed to detect stress through foot pressure and foot motion.

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