FriWalk is a four wheeled walker, equipped with depth sensors and cameras, that can function as a mobility aid, analysis system and personal trainer all in one.
A person’s gait can reveal a lot about the state of their health. In the past, special walkways that use sensors to measure the pressure exerted with each step, have been used for medical diagnosis but these are both costly and unnatural. Now, FriWalk offers an alternative gait analysis system. The four wheeled walker is equipped with depth sensors and cameras, and can function as a mobility aid, analysis system and personal trainer all in one.
FriWalk was developed as part of the EU ACANTO — a collaboration between six European countries. To begin, the patient inserts special pressure sensors into their shoes. Then, they walk as normal using FriWalk as support. The device then collects various measurements — the precise position of their feet on the ground, their orientation and the level of pressure they exert on the ground with each step. From this data, FriWalk can derive the step length, width and gait rhythm. Next, the system produces a virtual walkway, which displays the footprints on the floor and moving through the air. Doctors can then make analysis based on the visualized data. Additionally, FriWalk is accompanied by the FriTablet, which forms a user profile based on other sensors such as a heart rate monitor and facial recognition software, as well as preferences inputted by the user or their friends and family. From this, FriWalk will make recommendations about increases or decreases in physical activities based on the needs of the user.
FriWalk is still in development but is expected to be completed by 2018. The researchers hope to produce two versions — one for hospitals and one for use at home, which will cost less than USD 2000. Could other walking aids be used for medical analysis?