Health & Wellbeing

SoftSense – smart footwear for diabetic foot ulcers

41045 CBM6994 v4

Co-inventor Eilish Marra

Foot ulcers are a common complication of diabetes and the leading cause of lower limb amputation globally. Over 18.6m patients worldwide suffer from diabetic foot ulcers (DFU), with this number expected to grow as the number of people with diabetes globally continues to rise.

Foot ulcers are caused by a number of factors, with the most important of these being continued and uneven pressure on patients' feet. 

Current treatment includes using custom orthotics and footwear to offload pressure on the foot, but these interventions are difficult to customise and don't enable monitoring of how the ulcers are developing. Moreover, the shoes often look medical, increasing patient stigma and decreasing adherence to interventions.

Smart devices such as sensor-enabled insoles and socks are beginning to enter the market to improve patient’s monitoring of their ulcers. However, these technologies are not durable, do not help with taking pressure off the foot, and are often bulky, making them difficult for patients to place in their footwear – again, resulting in poor compliance.

A new smart-foam footwear developed by Jeongbin Ok and Eilish Marra from the School of Design Innovation at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington aims to improve outcomes for diabetic patients at risk of developing DFUs. 

With commercialisation support from Wellington UniVentures, the team has created a novel approach to the design and manufacture of footwear for patients at risk of DFU, through versatile footwear embedded with smart pressure detection that is custom-made to fit the patient's feet. The proprietary process involves taking a scan of the patient's feet and using 3D printing technology to create custom, ready to wear footwear based on the patient's unique anatomy.

This patient-centric approach ensures wearers have access to footwear that fits correctly, offloads pressure, and is easily adopted into their everyday lives. The continuous smart pressure detection sends pressure-point information directly to the patient's clinical team, empowering actionable insights and better management of potential DFUs.

Ultimately, this technology can reduce occurrence of DFU, leading to improved outcomes for people living with diabetes and reducing the burdens on patients and healthcare systems managing DFUs.

Features and benefits

Live monitoring

Our footwear detects pressure and sends the data to the patient's clinician, identifying potential pressure points that could lead to DFU.

Custom fit, quickly available

The custom-made footwear ensures comfort and effective pressure offloading. Our process can take the patient from scan to custom-made footwear in two days, providing an immediate solution for impending, active and healing ulcers. 

Non-medical style

The footwear can take on a range of styles that don't look medical, helping to reduce stigma, improve patient adherence and suit everyday use both indoors and outdoors. 

Next steps

The team has a prototype smart footwear available for in-house testing, and is currently developing and testing the prototype to include data communication. 

They are currently seeking:

  • Input from clinicians involved in diabetic foot care to better understand the difficulties in patient care, inform technology development and support future trials
  • Input from diabetic patients and their families who have experience with DFUs. 
  • Investors and partners to develop the technology further. 


If you are interested in finding out more, please get in touch with the Senior Commercialisation Manager below. 

36803 GCK1897
Sam Wojcik

Senior Commercialisation Manager

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