Innovator develops multi-purpose smart insoles to improve health and wellbeing
Smart footwear is a growing industry, with technology available which can help people with a number of conditions, but one company has taken a unique approach by introducing smart footwear designed not only to solve a healthcare challenge, but also to appeal to the everyday consumer, in one package.
Behind this technology is India-based company Ducere Technologies, winners of the AXA Health Tech & You Excellence in Health Tech category. Ducere has developed a range of smart footwear called ‘Lechal’ to help people with visual impairment and poor gait, and to provide consumers with insights into their health and wellbeing. We spoke to Co-Founder and CEO of Ducere Technologies, Krispian Lawrence, about Lechal’s journey from concept to reality.
Paving the way
The original concept for the Lechal platform came from the realisation that India has the highest population of visually-impaired people in the world. This led Krispian to begin developing the first version of the Lechal insoles. Lechal’s approach was unique in that the first version of the insoles was developed not just to solve a healthcare challenge, but also to appeal to everyday consumers.
Worn inside shoes, the insoles sync to Google Maps on your smartphone using Bluetooth. The insoles use subtle vibrations to help users to navigate without the need to look at a map, as well as tracking steps and the number of calories burnt.
Helping an ageing population
“Over the years, the tech of our insole has advanced exponentially as our team at Ducere Technologies grew,” says Krispian.
“As the technology advanced, it gave us the appetite to start taking on bigger challenges, such as fall prevention. We wanted to understand why people fall and help them – the two main reasons for higher risk are improper gait and poor balance.”
In time, Krispian and his team went on to design a more advanced version of the Lechal platform, using state-of-the-art motion and pressure sensing capabilities in order to measure over forty gait and balance parameters to gold standard precision.
Post-assessment the app suggests a customised 6-month home exercise program which can help improve mobility, strength, balance and endurance thereby helping reduce the risk of falling.
“There is not going to be one company who solves a problem such as falls; collaboration with key stakeholders is needed to bring products like Lechal to the people who need it the most.”
Being an AXA Health Tech & You Awards winner
When asked how they felt to be the winner of the AXA Health Tech & You Excellence in Health Tech category, Krispian said: “With the Lechal smart footwear platform, we aim to empower our users to become the best versions of themselves, AXA would be an excellent facilitator to achieve this aim with the UK’s ageing population.”
The Excellence in Health Tech category sought exceptional entrepreneurs with a credible and established solution, who have successfully collaborated with multiple partners, broken siloed thinking while relentlessly focusing on user experience.
Head judge Eric Kihlstrom, Chapter Lead, Aging 2.0, said: “I and the fellow judges of the Excellence in Health Tech Category felt that Lechal was outstanding in this category. Lechal addresses an articulated problem and offers a clear long-term solution that really works.”
 World Health Organization (2010). Visual Impairment and Blindness 2010. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/blindness/data_maps/VIFACTSHEETGLODAT2010full.pdf?ua=1 [Accessed 14 Jun. 2019].