An inductive force sensor for in-shoe plantar normal and shear load measurement

Wang, L, Jones, D, Chapman, Graham orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-3983-6641, Siddle, H, Russel, D, Alazmani, A and Culmer, P (2020) An inductive force sensor for in-shoe plantar normal and shear load measurement. IEEE Sensors Journal, 20 (22). pp. 13318-13331. ISSN 1530-437X

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Diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) are a severe global public health issue. Plantar normal and shear load are believed to play an important role in the development of foot ulcers and could be a valuable indicator to improve assessment of DFUs. However, despite their promise, plantar load measurements currently have limited clinical application, primarily due to the lack of reliable measurement techniques particularly for shear load measurements. In this paper we report on the design and evaluation of a novel tri-axis force sensor to measure both normal and shear load on the foot’s plantar surface simultaneously. The sensor consists of a group of inductive sensing coils above which a conductive target is placed on a hyperelastic elastomer.
Movement of the target under load affects the coil inductances which are measured and digitized by an embedded system. Using a computational finite element model, we investigated the influence of sensing coil form and configuration on sensor performance.
A sensor configured with four-square coils and maximal turns provided the best performance for plantar load measurements. A prototype was fabricated and calibrated using a neural network to map the non-linear relationship between the sensor output
and the applied tri-axis load. Experimental evaluation indicates that the tri-axis sensor can effectively detect shear load of �16
N and normal load up to 105 N (RMS errors: 1.05 N and 1.73 N respectively) with a high performance. Overall, this sensor
provides a promising basis for plantar normal and shear load measurement which are crucial for improved assessment of DFU.

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