Technology brings us all kinds of possibilities. 40 years ago, when the first cell phone came out, people could not image a world where everybody cannot live without a cell phone; 5 years ago, when the first virtual reality headset released to the public, VR finally turned from a discrete concept into an affordable product that you are now playing game with every day. Who knows what will happen in the next 10 years, perhaps we human will build the first colony in the Mars; at least, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, SolarCity, and Tesla are all having groundbreaking progresses. What I am trying to say is that we are at the forefront of the times, we are not able to know what the future is like, but we are able to create it. Now allow me to introduce the work I have been doing on creating a tiny piece of the future.
Figure 1. Arch Index= Area(B)/Area(A+B+C)
Our lab is collaborating with NYU Physical Therapy. In physical therapy, foot posture is an important aspect to assess risk of falling, early identification of foot ulceration etc. One of the platform we developed is a visual tool for foot posture measurement using Tactonic floor sensor. The measurement is based on Arch Index, which indicates the height of foot arch for classifying foot type. There are a lot of ways to measure arch index, we use the same method as clinics, which calculates the ratio of middle third area of the footprint to the entire footprint area(excluding the toes, see Figure 1).
Figure 2. Footprint from Harris Mat
The equipment for measuring arch index is Harris Mat(see Figure 2). Harris Mat is a foot imprinter, it is widely used in hospitals and clinics. When you step on it, the deformation caused by pressure pushes the paper to the ink layer so that you foot is printed. Based on visual observation, Professionals in hospitals or clinics classify foot types into low, medium or high. Apparently, this traditional procedure is more of a subjective estimation than an accurate measurement. Our goal is replacing this traditional equipment by a new technology – Tactonic floor sensor. The floor sensor can visually provide variation of the pressure distribution over time. With some computer vision methods applied to the heatmap, the arch index can be obtained in real time. See Figure 3, it is beautiful and convenient, isn’t it? Imagine 10 years later, every hospital or clinic uses our technology to measure arch index, the accurate result can be acquired immediately after patient stands on a floor sensor, and foot type can be classified even before the doctor comes. At that time, when we recall the past, today could be another example that technology begins to change the major method of arch index measurement, physical therapy, and even the world.
Figure 3. Arch index measurement and its raw image