Capskin supplies measuring membranes with integrated sensors that record pressure and tensile forces in the shoe in real time. For the first time, it is thus possible to determine the interaction data between foot and shoe. This data is enormously valuable for the development of new footwear.

Many of us will have asked ourselves: What actually happens inside the skate? Anyone who manufactures or uses skates knows what a big topic this is; because the skate is a black box. However, its secret should soon be revealed – and presumably Capskin AG will then be behind it.

At Capskin, everything revolves around the interface between the human body and artificial materials, i.e. clothing, for example, but also office chairs, airplane seats, children’s seats, bicycle saddles – and first and foremost shoes of all kinds, including sports shoes, mountain boots, ski boots and – especially important – work shoes. Put simply, Capskin provides a way to measure traction and compression between the body and a surface that is in contact with the body. In this way, movements and pressure surfaces are detected and recorded in situations that are not accessible with other methods.

Sensors in the film

In the case of Capskin, a stretchable elastic film about one millimeter thick provides the data because it houses numerous sensors. Current development is focusing on the foot because the biomechanical processes in the ankle and between foot and shoe are so important. The footwear market has an annual turnover of $500 billion. Shoe manufacturers are very interested in learning as much as possible about how the foot feels in the shoe. Today, there are entire research departments dedicated to developing the ideal footwear. There are also ways to determine the pressure exerted on the sole. The special thing about Capskin is that all bio-mechanical processes in the shoe are recorded and recorded, especially the traction behavior.

The idea for Capskin goes back to Oliver Glauser. As part of a dissertation in computer science at ETH, he worked on combining hardware and machine learning to record movements without a camera. He has been conducting research and development on this topic for five years.

On the sock

A year ago, Oliver Glauser founded Capskin together with Lukas Sommerhalder and Shihao Wu. The first thing the three founders did was to secure funding from incubators, business angels and early stage VCs and find a (paying!) industrial partner. This fall, a synthetic sock with numerous sensors should be available to the development departments of shoe manufacturers. With its help, it will be possible to visualize and record the conditions inside the shoe in 3D. Originally, the developers were interested in the movements of the hand. However, these can also be recorded with cameras, and the pressure parameters are not so decisive for the hand. A user analysis and survey of more than 100 experts worldwide showed that the shoe is pressing in shoe manufacturing.

So in just a few months, developers will be able to use Capskin to objectively record the biomechanical requirements of the materials used in the shoe. This will then also make it possible to quantify wearing comfort. Until now, developers have been dependent on subjective data from test subjects.

Soon, orthopedists will also be able to determine the individual needs of their patients and then offer precisely tailored shoes and insoles for people with special requirements. The personalized shoe, designed to meet individual needs, will also be available in retail stores. Even then, the use of Capskin membranes will still be in its infancy. The list of products that would need “human-centric” optimization is long.

(translated from original article in German in https://www.technopark.ch/news/zeitschrift-einblick/)