A hydrogel constructed by hybrid “soft” and “hard” hierarchical architecture to mimic the structure of natural soft tissues, such as ligament, tendon, and cartilage. The size of the nanoparticles incorporated in the gel could achieve the improvement of machinal properties and conductive abilities of hydrogels and facilitate the low cost hydrogels in smart wearable industries. The most recent attempt at smart shoe was by Nike in 2012. It requires additional layer of shoe insole to fit 4 piezoelectric pressure sensors on 4 point of the shoe insole. However, the attempt failed due to the cost of fitting the electrical components into shoe manufacturing process. When hydrogel is used as shoe insole, it has several key advantages in the market. Frist, easy molding, hydrogel is formed from solution therefore different shape and sizes of shoe insole can be formed. Second, compartmentalization of the hydrogel would make it behave as a pressure sensor. Each hydrogel compartment is extremely durable and provides outstanding shock absorption property. The last but not least, the hydrogel is eco-friendly. The hydrogel was made from recyclable materials, therefore it is environment friendly. Hydrogel pressure sensor could be used to develop step counting shoes and gait analyzing shoes (to analyze users’ balance) for injury prevention. The target market is the athletic brands including Adidas, Under Armour and etc. The global smart shoe market is highly competitive as major companies seek for market expansion through various strategic mergers, acquisitions, and etc. Such competitive landscape is advantageous to us and North America accounted for the largest market share due to growing demand for high-end technology solutions and smart gadgets. Therefore, collaborating with athletic brands’ research institution can move the product forward as innovative material or gimmick would draw attention to meet the demands.
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Photo of HKSTPC Techno Idea Award Winning Team- Gelpro and Judge of Dare To Change Competition