Leap: Smart Insoles for Injury Protection and Guidance for Visually Impaired

Over the summer in 2015, I spent 2 weeks with a group of 5 other students in an entrepreneurial camp. Camp Bizsmart was a summer camp extending across the US with thousands of kids from around the world, and our task was to use technology from one of three sponsoring companies: Zepp Labs, NeuroSky, or Xicato. We were given the problem statement and access to the sponsor’s technology, which we were then able to use to design, concept, source and ultimately create a product under the 150$ price point. Eventually, we would split into teams within our Stanford group and the winner of these 10 teams would go on to be judged alongside the winners from the other sessions around the country.

Working with the company Zepp Labs that provides motion-sensing technology in baseball bats and Tennis Rackets, we used their technology to come up with an innovative solution to a pressing issue. Follow our journey below.

Problem Statement

In the US about 30 million children and teens participate in some form of organized sports; there are 3.5 million injuries each year, which cause student-athletes to lose playing time. Almost one-third of all injuries in childhood are sports-related injuries. Yet, over 50% of all sports injuries in youth are preventable. Overuse or misuse injuries of a body part are responsible for nearly half of all sports injuries to middle and high school students.

Objectives

Our objectives would be to use ZEPP Labs motion sensor technology to develop a wearable device monitored by a smartphone/tablet app to help keep athletes safe from injury. We were required to only choose one sport with a common injury and specialize the device for that sport, but we would take it one step further and be able to prevent injury upon a larger scale.

The product we came up with would:

  • Improve balance, strength, coordination, and/or specific skills
  • Be comfortable and provide accurate data
  • Address conditioning and proper body mechanics
  • Capture all data from the device and send it wirelessly to the app
  • Have a social aspect to the app

and it would be able to:

Process

  • Identified a specific consumer market and geographic locations.
  • Created and developed a product that reduces injuries in athletes age 8-18.
  • Sourced all components from Chinese vendors for cost-effectiveness and made a Bill of Quantities.
  • Do a competitive analysis: the features, benefits, and advantages to differentiate your product from others in the market.
  • Finalize a pricing plan including the cost to manufacture, market, and get to market along with the return on investment (ROI).
  • Come up with a marketing plan, specific marketing tactics to drive sales, a plan for distribution and a sales promotion strategy.
  • Identify companies that would be interested in marketing partnerships.
  • Present upon a stage to three judges (angel investors) along with other audience.
  • Pitch the product based on benefits such as reduction in injury rates, long-term cost savings, safety benefits, health benefits, and health savings.

The Product

Finally, our product. Firstly, we focused on soccer (or football depending on where you’re from). We felt that Soccer is not only the most played sport worldwide, it also presents the most injuries to its players. Now that we had figured out what sport we would focus on, we developed a smart insole that could track fitness statistics throughout the day. Our thinking was to take an already existing aspect of our lives and improve it, rather than add an additional sensor to complicate the user’s life. Almost every shoe contains an insole that is often not comfortable and does not provide stability. Leap insole would not only make this aspect of footwear smart, but it would also provide the benefits of contoured insoles by using state of the art memory foam. Our product was developed so that it would also be able to track other sports in the future, because the sole can be taken out and put in soccer boots, tennis shoes, running shoes, etc. The insole is the next generation shoe insole that will show you statistics such as but not limited to running speed, jumping height, kicking trajectory, running mechanics, balance, and, most importantly, improves how you run and jump to reduce ankle and knee strain.

We thought out every detail to make this product an effective and usable product. Some issues we had involved charging the sole:

  • The batteries lasted for over a day and a half, but we expected most consumers to charge overnight. Who wants an additional product to charge? The solution was simple and involved batteries that were QI compatible, and a wireless charging pad that the shoes could be rested on overnight. This way there is no plugging in; rather, the user sets the shoes down on a shelf. We researched contacted vendors, and finally sourced both the wireless charging pad and compatible batteries that would work through the barrier of the shoe itself.
  • Additionally, all the components had to be waterproof to prevent sweat and moisture damage; therefore, we coated all products in a sealed waterproof coating.
  • We realized that the user would not usually have the phone while playing the sport, which presented the problem of how to communicate with the user if their technique were wrong or if there were some sort of injury in the making. With the already existing wireless technology, the solution involved a simple buzzer that would give small vibrations if the app sensed anything wrong. This way a player could ask to be taken off the field to check their phone and see what they need to do differently.

These were just a few of the many obstacles we had to overcome to develop a functional, usable product.

Results

The company website probably sums this up the best: Leap Insole, Sponsored by ZEPP Labs Awarded Top Team for Camp BizSmart 2015

We ended up coming first place out of teams from various other camps with students from around the world. Over hundreds of students participated, and after winning we were recognized upon the Keiretsu Entrepreneurial Forum (an angel investor summit).