Kirigami-Inspired Shoe Bottom Coatings Could Prevent Falls in Icy or Slippery Conditions
Researchers at MIT have created a shoe coating that can increase friction between the shoe and the ground. Inspired by snakeskin, these shoes can potentially reduce the risk of falling on ice and other slippery surfaces.
As per WHO records, falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide. Additionally, adults over 65 years of age suffer the greatest number of fatal falls.
These anti-slip assistive grips could easily be used to coat the bottom of shoes.
Giovanni Traverso, the co-corresponding author of the paper, said, “Falls are the leading cause of the death for older adults and the second leading cause of occupational-related deaths,” “If we could control and increase the friction between us and the ground, we could reduce the risk of these types of falls, which not only cost lives but billions of dollars in medical bills every year.”
To form a pattern like snake scales, researchers used kirigami (the Japanese art of paper cutting). When a wearer places the foot on the surface, the cuts pop out into spikes that dig into the ground and create friction. However, when the foot flattens, these spikes fold back into the material.
Sahab Babaee, a co-lead author of the paper, said, “As you walk, the curvature of your shoe changes,” “We designed these assistive grippers to pop-out when weight shifts from the heel to the toe and the shoe bends and stretches along the soles.”