An RMIT researcher has devised a wireless gait monitoring system with exciting applications in healthcare, rehabilitation and sport.
Fresh from a high profile Research Fellowship at the University of Delaware in the US, Dr Gita Pendharkar's design is set to revolutionise the ways we assess and track walking patterns.
Dr Pendharkar's design involves a monitory sensory device embedded into the heel of a shoe and used to analyse, in real time, a patient's gait pattern while walking.
The device is linked to a wireless attachment on the patient's wrist, which gives out auditory and vibratory feedback if an abnormal gait is detected.
The system has ground-breaking potential to fast track the rehabilitation process for gait impaired users such as amputees and stroke patients, and now Dr Pendharkar is looking toward further applications in sports science.
"We have developed a system using a wireless sensor network that will provide feedback to the user if they do not have the correct running technique," she said.
"With further development, the device can facilitate an interesting real time exchange between the athlete and their coach or instructor, who will be able to track their progress wirelessly."
The device was developed in collaboration with researchers from the University of Delaware, where Dr Pendharkar spent time after winning a Sir Keith Murdoch Fellowship from the American Australian Association in 2013.
Feedback about the potential application of the device was also obtained from the Harvard University Running Laboratory.
Dr Gita Pendharkar, with the gait-measuring device embedded in a walking shoe.
Dr Pendharkar has spent her career exploring the ways in which gait correction systems can enrich people's lives.
She now hopes the system will inspire students to extend the technology into the future.
"This system is at the cutting edge of technology and if we can train students to design and develop similar innovative medical devices and increase the biomedical manufacturing industry in these areas, the country and the community will reap great rewards."
Dr Pendharkar, who teaches electro technology in the School of Vocational Engineering, said RMIT professional staff have provided invaluable support to her during her time as an educator.
"The management team at the School of Vocational Engineering has always been helpful and supported me during this research," she said.
"I am thankful to my managers who have helped me through nearly a decade of service."
Researchers in the School of Vocational Engineering provide industry-focused training in engineering.
Dr Pendharkar is one of many academics working alongside students to provide real world solutions to industry.