Pressure-sensitive smart insoles offer ANT+ and Bluetooth low energy wireless connectivity to help runners improve running form

Podoon Insoles employ Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF51422 multiprotocol SoC to capture running form data on iOS and Android smartphones as well as sportswatches

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that China-based Podoon (Xiamen) Technology Co. Limited, has selected the nRF51422 multiprotocol System-on-Chip (SoC) for the Podoon Insoles, pressure-sensitive insoles designed to improve running form. The insole is equipped with ANT+ andBluetooth® low energy (previously known as Bluetooth Smart) wireless connectivity provided by the unique multiprotocol support of the nRF51422 SoC.

Manufactured from an elastic polymer, the Podoon Insoles are embedded with 0.2-mm thick flexible film pressure sensors designed to capture running-specific data that a runner can then receive on their smartphone or smartwatch via the display, or in the form of a voice notification. Alternatively, the user can review the post-run data to improve running form, prevent injury, and improve overall running performance, via suggestions provided by the Podoon app.

In operation, the user removes the original insoles from their running shoes and replaces them with the Podoon Insoles, which will automatically activate after two seconds. After downloading the Podoon app to their compatible iOS or Android mobile, the user can pair the insoles with their device, select ‘start running’, and the insoles will begin to record data including running form, initial contact, cadence, ground contact time, flight time, heel impact, over-striding, and foot pronation. The Podoon Insoles can also be used in ‘offline’ mode. Once connected to the Podoon app, data is automatically synched to the user’s device.

“Most people run for health, but 80 percent of runners suffer running injuries, and the reason is often that they use improper running form. Running form is critical for runners to stay safe, healthy, and injury free,” says Allen Zheng, Podoon (Xiamen) Technology Co., Founder and CEO. “Plantar fascia pressure data is the secret to detect running form. We determined to be the first private running form coach of runners.

“Traditional smart running shoes use built-in tri-axial accelerometers to detect running form, however Podoon Insoles’ film pressure sensors can now provide richer and more precise data than accelerometers.”

The nRF51422 SoC integrates a 32-bit ARM® Cortex™ M0 microcontroller, 2.4GHz radio, 256kB/128kB Flash memory, and 32kB/16kB RAM on a single chip. The powerful, highly flexible multiprotocol device ensures interoperability between the Podoon Insoles and iOS and Android smartphones, as well as ANT+ or Bluetooth 4.0 (or later) sportswatches—such as Garmin devices—simultaneously.

The Podoon Insoles are powered by a CR2032 coin cell battery. Battery life is dependent on the duration and frequency of exercise, and the number of devices it is connected to at one time, but in normal ‘sports mode’ operation the cell provides power for 18 months, and up to three years in standby mode, thanks, in part, to the ultra low consumption of the nRF51422 SoC.

“We considered the possibility of ANT+ compatibility ever since the beginning of the design process. Nordic’s Bluetooth and ANT+ multiprotocol solution is leading the industry, so we selected the company’s solution right from the start,” says Allen. “This is the first time Podoon has cooperated with Nordic and they provided very professional, and very responsive support.”

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