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FOOTWEAR IN THE 21ST CENTURY

May 5, 2022

Young Italian is the winner.

It was in October 2021 that CTCP received 11 young people from Spain, Italy, Greece and Romania for a training activity, under the Erasmus+ European project SciLed. In two weeks, the students developed four footwear models, one per group, where they combined comfort and sustainability with innovative design.
In the last day of the experience, each group presented their model, to the project partners. Surprised with the results presented, Mario Gil Moreira – Managing Director of Klaveness, one of the partner companies of SciLED project, prepared a competition where he challenged the young people to create and design an orthopaedic footwear model, in which the best project presented would be awarded.

The projects were evaluated based on the originality of the design, the selection of materials, the techniques used and the narrative of the product concept, by a jury composed by elements from Klaveness, CTCP – Footwear Technology Centre and CEC – European Confederation of Footwear Industry.
Mario Gil Moreira, tells us that “the company was very impressed with the proposal submitted considering that the student is not from the footwear area”.
The winner of this competition was the young Gianluca Pegolo, an Italian student of design, which although not coming directly from the footwear field, after this contact with the sector, considers this a possibility “I’m not sure if I will be a footwear designer or explore other areas of design, but this initiative made me really think about entering the footwear industry” says and adds that he would like, in the near future “to have the possibility of doing an internship in one of these footwear companies.

Gianluca also says that “the industry should bet in more initiatives like this one, which are enriching both companies and students. Since students like me have the possibility to challenge themselves and work for a real client and to enjoy new ideas”. “I think this initiative was great, it gave me the possibility to be in contact with companies that I had the pleasure to visit in Portugal and to work on a briefing for a real product, which needs to meet the strict design features for an orthopaedic shoe, a real challenge!” concludes this young man.

December 6, 2021

Augmented and Virtual Reality applications create environments where synthetic information generated by a computer is either blended with real world information or generate a fully digital worlds so that the user’s perception of the spatial world around him/her is either augmented or completely replaced. The Milgram’s Mixed Reality (MR) continuum is a representation of the potential ways to mix real and synthetic information, starting from the fully real (normal) world on the left until the fully virtual world on the right (Milgram & Kishino, 1994). The amount of digital content added to the user’s perception of reality determines the position on the MR continuum.

 

Figure 1. Milgram’s MR continuum

Virtual Reality (VR) allows the user’s total immersion in the digital world. However, to achieve that the use of specific hardware is required, specifically a headset that fills the field of vision in its entirety with highly realistic images accompanied by 3D sound systems. The user can interact with objects in the virtual scene and this interaction becomes even more realistic with the use of haptic devices that make the user “touch and feel” those objects.

Figure 2. Oculus Quest 2 VR system

Non-Immersive VR devices include simpler headsets and handheld displays like tablets. The user can still move around in the virtual world, but all of the digital content is viewed through the device screen so the user does not feel that he/she is present in the virtual world.

Augmented Reality (AR) is a set of technologies that immerse the users in experiences that mix real environments with computer-generated synthetic objects. AR allows the enrichment of the user’s interaction with the physical environment that surrounds him through the addition of information or virtual objects. The user’s field of vision is only partially filled with those objects which integrate with the view of the physical environment that surrounds him. Therefore, in AR applications there is a distinct perception between what is real and what is virtual. AR applications can also tap into the device’s camera, gyroscope, positioning system and/or accelerometer to enhance the user experience. AR has become much more commercially accessible due to the advent of mobile platforms like smartphones with extended sensor and graphic capabilities. VR and AR are now merging into the Mixed Reality (MR) concept which brings together all the different aspects of these technologies. Microsoft Hololens holographic device is an initial example of this new reality (figure 2).

Figure 3 Microsoft Holsolen

In the footwear sector, the use of Virtual and Augmented Reality has still not been fully exploited and there are only a few examples around. In most cases, these technologies are mostly used for Marketing purposes like the announcement of new performance shoes by ASICS. One interesting case of the use of Virtual Reality in this domain is the design of shoes using a 3D graphical system like the Gravity Sketch application as shown by the designer Gonzzzalo (figure 3).

Figure 4 Designing a shoe using a 3D virtual graphic system

Most Augmented Reality applications for the footwear industry relate to the “virtual try-on” concept which allows users to see how shoes would fit on their feet before they buy or even see or touch those shoes in reality. This is the case of the Wanna Kicks application: it allows the user to visualize how a certain model of sneakers looks on their feet, through the smartphone camera. After the user chooses a model, the application opens the camera and tries to detect a feet on the image. If successful a 3D model of the previously chosen sneakers appears around the foot, and even accompanying the movement of the same. In addition to viewing the models, the app also presents the user a description of the model, the expected price, and the referral to a store that markets those sneakers.

Figure 5 Wanna Kicks Virtual Try-on

That is also the case of the Vyking app that has a 3D foot tracking technology which is able to track human feet for AR applications, allowing for “on-foot” product visualisation. Vyking’s foot tracking works on any smartphone and detects feet with socks, shoes or barefoot. The company provides the technology as a service to other businesses, namely footwear brands.

Figure 6 Vyking AR app

In summary, Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality offer new possibilities in the design, manufacturing and marketing of footwear products. The sector is only starting to explore those possibilities but with the current commercial availability of less expensive devices capable of supporting VR and AR with a good degree of immersion, we can expect to see a large increase in the use of these technologies in the next few years.

References
Milgram, P., and Kishino, F. (1994). A taxonomy of mixed reality visual displays. IEICE Trans. Inform. Syst. 77, 1321–1329.

December 6, 2021

The design and manufacture of footwear is evolving from a labour-intensive process to a process based on knowledge. This is clear from the large volume of new innovative technologies and manufacturing processes that have been developed in the last decade and cover a wide range of applications in the field of engineering, IT, materials, communication, etc. (CEC, 2009; Chituc et al., 2008; Wong et al, 2006; Pedrazzoli, 2009). Significant efforts were also made for the (mass) customization of final products in order to meet basic requirements of a population group or even individuals (Lee, 2006; Leng and Du, 2006; Luximon et al., 2003; Azariadis and Papagiannis, 2010).

During the last twenty years, a considerable number of works have been developed for the study of the biomechanical properties of footwear and their relationship with the kinematic of the foot or the so-called gait cycle. Modern studies use Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) technologies with three-dimensional foot models to reach conclusions about foot behavior and in some cases to improve some parameters related to shoe design. These tools are based on numerical methods and more specifically on the Finite Element Method (FEM). Through FEM it is possible to calculate realistic simulations concerning the behavior of the foot and of footwear. The most common biomechanical parameters calculated or simulated concern internal stresses, distribution of strains, deformations, etc.

In the modern practice of designing clothing and footwear products, comfort factors are also considered. The main reason is the relationship between comfort and performance. The entire product life-cycle is reconsidered in terms of design, performance and functionality, which is commonly perceived as footwear comfort. Given working conditions, the interaction of materials and product design with the human body corresponds to the physical and physiological side of comfort. In addition to these two aspects, there are psychological factors that shape the perception of comfort. Consumers increasingly demand personalized and differentiated shoes, which open opportunities for more creativity while ensuring that comfort and sustainability requests are satisfied.

Although the deployment of FEA for complex systems requires a high level of expertise, it is possible, once the analyses are parameterized and standardized, for non-experts to apply the techniques. This has been demonstrated in the Optshoes project (http://opt-shoes.aegean.gr) for determining footwear comfort characteristics, where a simple to use web-based interface limits interactivity to parameterization of input files without any further involvement with the underlying FEA kernel (Zissis et al., 2016). The entire process is facilitated through using a specialized Materials Database.

Opt-shoes: main functions
Opt-shoes is a computer-aided engineering tool for supporting the design of footwear with desired comfort characteristics (Figure 1). It uses sole models with different industrial materials and a realistic foot bio-model. When standing and walking, ground forces act on the body through the sole of the shoe. Comfort can first be assessed in terms of pressure (force) distribution on the lower surface of the foot. High pressures indicate potential discomfort. Bending and torsional behavior of the footwear sole during walking are also critical. Different end uses of the footwear dictate various energy levels for sole bending and twisting. The system is able to optimize the sole stiffness by selecting the best available combination of the materials for the three sole layers which have a predefined – by the designer – desirable thickness. With this application, the designer can calculate stiffness levels and compare models to typical soles on the market (https://opt-shoes.aegean.gr ).

 

Figure 1: Interface of Opt-shoes (https://opt-shoes.aegean.gr).

The designer is able to choose from a list of industrial footwear materials, to select the stiffness of the sole, the thickness of each layer and the type of stress calculation for the sole layers. Figure 2 and Figure 3 depict an example of the stresses calculation for a flat three-layer sole of a casual footwear.

(a)

(b)

(c)

Figure 2: a) Input parameters for sole, b) Plantar pressures simulation results, c) Bending/Torsion simulation results

(a)

(b)
Figure 3: a) Input optimization parameters for sole, b) Output results for the three best matching sole layers combinations

References

  • Azariadis P. and Papagiannis P. (2010). A new business model for integrating textile/clothing and footwear production, The 3rd International Conference on Advanced Materials and Systems -ICAMS 2010, Bucharest, Sep. 16-18, 235-240.
  • Azariadis P., Moulianitis V., Alemany S., Olaso J., Jong D.P., Zande V.D.M. and Brands D., (2007), “Virtual Shoe Test Bed: A Computer-Aided Engineering Tool For Supporting Shoe Design”, CAD and Applications, 4(6), 741-750
  • CEC, 2009. CEC-made-shoe: Custom, Environment and Comfort made shoe. 2004-2008. Contact No 507378 – 2, FP6 IST – NMP (Manufacturing, Products and Service Engineering 2010), http://www.cec-made-shoe.com.
  • Chituc C.M., Toscano C., Azevedo A., (2008). Interoperability in Collaborative Networks: Independent and industry-specific initiatives – The case of the footwear industry. Computers in Industry, 59(7):741-757.
  • Lee K., (2006). CAD System for Human-Centered Design. Computer-Aided Design & Applications,3(5):615-628.
  • Leng J. and Du R., (2006). A CAD Approach for Designing Customized Shoe Last. Computer-Aided Design & Applications, 3(1-4): 377-384.
  • Luximon A., Goonetilleke R.S., Tsui K.L., (2003). Footwear Fit Categorization. The Customer Centric Enterprise: Advances in Mass Customization and Personalization, Ed. Mitchell, M. Tseng, Frank Piller. Springer, pp. 491-500.
  • Pedrazzoli P., (2009). Design Of customeR dRiven shoes and multisiTe factory – DOROTHY. in: K.-D. Thoben, K. S. Pawar, & R. Goncalves (eds). 15th International Conference on Concurrent Enterprising. 22-24 June 2009, Leiden, Netherlands.
  • Wong K.H.M., Hui P.C.L., Chan A.C.K., (2006). Cryptography and authentication on RFID passive tags for apparel products. Computers in Industry, 57(4): 342-349
    Zissis D., Lekkas D., Azariadis Ph., Papanikos P., Xidias E., (2016). Collaborative CAD/CAE as a Cloud Service. International Journal of Systems Science: Operations & Logistics, 4:4, 339-355, doi:10.1080/23302674.2016.1186237

November 23, 2021

The introduction of healthcare technology in footwear industry has become the search for “El Dorado” within the realm of feet. There is a consensus on the definition of the potential benefits that technology in general can introduce in the different areas of footwear industry; design, manufacturing, packaging, logistics, sales, healthy products or monitoring biometrical parameters. Terms like CAD (Computer Aided Design), CAM (computer aided manufacturing), CIM (Computer integrated manufacturing) or EPOS (electronic point of sales) are usually known by footwear sector. Nowadays IoT (Internet of Things) devices are popularly used to monitor humans remotely in the healthcare sector. However, and particularly speaking about ICT-Health technologies (ICT means information and communication technology), the real application of these technologies is still in its infancy, and there are hardly any real examples of intelligent shoes that have real benefits for users. The delicate nature of feet, the wide variety of procedures and different approaches, and the fact that wearable technologies has yet to solve energy aspects has meant that wearable technology has not yet become popular within the footwear scenario.

What are the main benefits of ICT-Health on footwear?

  • Increasing quality in the patient assistance.
    • ICT can help improve patient safety through the direct access to the medical case story, checking the treatments online, keeping track of the patients’ progress and anticipating possible medical errors.
  • Cutting down the medical spending.
    • Direct access to data
  • Reducing administrative cost.
  • Possibility to carry on brand new health models.
    • they contribute to a personalized following of chronic diseases; they improve the access to health care in rural populations; and they contribute to the optimizing data measuring and supervision.

ICT-Health enabled devices implanted on shoes are utilized to generate datasets for different diseases, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments. There is a great requirement for a large dataset for research in healthcare. ICT-Health devices are designed to collect data that can be produced by human beings.

What are the keypoints when speaking about ICT-Health?

Several examples of smart-shoes can be found, and they are increasing exponentially. One of these examples is the E-Vone shoes; these shoes are capable of detecting “abnormal” movements, such as a fall or slip, and trigger a pre-programmed alarm.

The possibilities that open up for the footwear sector thanks to advances in technology are immense.

November 23, 2021

INESCOP is developing the first FOOTWEAR USER EXPERIENCE LAB technology demonstrator for the footwear sector, in which some of the most cutting-edge technologies in the field of health and neuromarketing are integrated. The purpose of this demonstrator is both to show the possibilities for assessing comfort in footwear and to conduct research in this area of knowledge.

In competition with design, comfort is one of the criteria that most influences the decision to purchase a pair of shoes, and from a functional point of view, it is the most important aspect. In this sense, one of INESCOP’s tasks as a footwear technology centre is to make new technologies and innovative concepts available to companies. For this reason, and in line with the Smart Specialisation Strategy of the Valencia’s Regional Department of Innovation, Universities, Science and Digital Society, INESCOP has set up the first technology demonstrator to evaluate footwear during real use.

The FOOTWEAR USER EXPERIENCE LAB (UX-LAB) project aims to generate knowledge and develop sufficient scientific evidence to implement in the same setting health, safety, and industrial sustainability criteria, to carry out the evaluation of one of the most commercialised consumer goods: footwear. This is always to the benefit of the end user and within the reach of companies, where they can make use of technologies to optimise the added value of their products, improving the health and well-being of the user while caring for the environment.

Bearing in mind that footwear is one of the main economic drivers of the fashion sector, with this demonstrator INESCOP intends to design an intelligent, sustainable, and inclusive strategy to analyse comfort in footwear by means of an integral evaluation that covers the foot-last-shoe triad. To achieve optimal coexistence between the foot and the footwear, the best possible match between the foot and the last that is going to be used to produce the shoe must first be obtained, validating its functionality in the real use environment for which it is intended and for the activity to be carried out by the user.

This is a demonstration space that will offer footwear companies diverse and innovative technologies for the evaluation of comfortable, healthy, and safe footwear, in a way that contributes to improving the quality of life and well-being of users. In this way, footwear companies will be able to improve their positioning and promote their economic development, increasing the value of brands and differentiating themselves from the competition based on technical and healthy criteria, building on INESCOP’s 50 years of experience.

The UX-LAB will be implemented in INESCOP’s facilities in Elda (Alicante, Spain), allowing the implementation of sustainable and healthy technologies in a totally cohesive way, where previously defined concepts will be showcased, demonstrating proximity and viability for the companies in the sector, as well as for the end users of any type of shoe.

Based on INESCOP’s previous experience, companies are already being offered to validate aspects of footwear functionality using equipment that will be integrated into this pilot lab, and other analysis methodologies will also be optimised, with the aim of having available in the same space:

  • Dimensional analysis by 3D digitisation of feet, lasts, components and footwear.
  • Kinematic and dynamic analysis using various movement analysis systems with cameras, inertial sensors, and force platforms.
  • Pressure distribution analysis using sensorised insoles, platforms, and treadmills.
  • Thermal comfort assessment using infrared thermography and thermal foot manikin, in climatic chambers.
  • Muscle fatigue and effort assessment using electromyography and a gas analyser.
  • User experience analysis through the study of perceptions and neuroscientific techniques such as electroencephalography, eye tracking and galvanic skin response.

Directly related to its demonstration effect, the UX-LAB is also intended to address the aspects of industrial sustainability, fully in line with the sustainable development goals of the 2030 Agenda.

Isometric projection of INESCOP’s Footwear UX-LAB

October 14, 2021

Today, orthopaedic footwear is, for the most part, based on empirical evidence. Its quality and efficiency are strictly determined by the knowledge and experience of the orthopaedic technician. Orthopaedic footwear is designed to relieve pain and provide support to the feet, ankles, or legs.

Considerable advances in computer technology, both in the industrial and medical fields make it possible to directly assess the quality and efficiency of orthopaedic footwear.

Computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) was introduced in the shoe industry in the 1970s and focused on designing and grading upper patterns to manufacture cutting dies, shoe lasts, and sole moulds [1]. Initially, it was used primarily for two-dimensional (2D) pattern grading of the shoe upper. Traditional CAD/CAM systems used in the footwear industry today have evolved to include a more extensive range of functions, such as 3D footwear and decoration design, sole designs and production, and shoe last manufacturing and machine control.

CAD/CAM automates routine procedures, increases speed, improves consistency, and enables design variations. CAD/CAM is used effectively in all aspects of the footwear industry as data generated at the design stage can be sent from anywhere in the world to factories for production planning and manufacturing.

The shoe upper CAD/CAM system has focused on 2D pattern generation from shoe designs; sizing and grading of upper patterns; 2D texture and logos design and engraving; optimization methods to reduce waste by properly aligning 2D patterns; machining code for cutting machines (knife or lase); and laser engraving. Previously, 2D CAD was used for upper design while 3D CAD was used for sole and shoe-last design and manufacturing, but now even 3D CAD is used for upper design.

Nowadays, with knitting technology, the design and production cycle can be reduced, the quality and variations in the lasts have been improved. In addition, design software can be used to generate shoe last from existing shoe lasts after digitization or scanning. Using shoe-last design and manufacturing CAD-CAM software, complex shoe lasts can be accurate design; design can be easily modified based on many geometric modeling tools; the design changes can be visualized in real-time; final design can be machined using shoe last CNC machine.

Footwear manufacturing will probably evolve into two separate directions based on footwear type: traditional footwear [2] and 3D printed footwear [3]. New technology in traditional footwear manufacturing will strengthen the design (CAD), manufacturing (CAM), and engineering (CAE) components by including easy-to-use and innovative functions. CAD systems will have standalone and web-based systems for quick design, design changes, and design modifications. Shoe-last-based footwear design using parametric or point-based geometric modeling enables footwear design modifications and sizing more quickly and accurately. The shoe-upper design will improve further by knitting technology to have upper designs with more functions (moisture management, motion control, and functional requirement for sports). The sole design will focus both on traditional techniques of making sole via moulding and 3D printing technologies. Web-based footwear customization and personalization will become familiar as it will enable individual users to create their designs using the web or mobile interfaces.

The main advantages of custom manufacturing are the ability to provide the customer with products with the exact specifications required and therefore reduce the risks of entire stocks of finished products getting older and out of fashion. In addition, software manufacturers create integrated programs for companies producing orthopedic footwear, to not only help in the efficient management of a product’s life-cycle, from idea, design, and production to service and recycling.

Programs can accomplish:

– Computer-Aided Design (CAD);
Computer-aided design (CAD) makes it possible to create models defined by geometrical parameters. These models typically appear on a computer monitor as a three-dimensional representation of a part, or a system of parts, which can be readily altered by changing relevant parameters. Thus, CAD systems enable designers to view objects under a wide variety of representations and to test these objects by simulating real-world conditions [4].

– Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM);
Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) uses geometrical design data to control automated machinery. CAM systems are associated with computer numerical control (CNC) or direct numerical control (DNC) systems. These systems differ from older forms of numerical control (NC) in that geometrical data are encoded mechanically. Since both CAD and CAM use computer-based methods for encoding geometrical data, the design and manufacture processes can be highly integrated. Therefore, computer-aided design and manufacturing systems are commonly referred to as CAD/CAM [4].

– Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE);
Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) refers to software to simulate the effects of different conditions on the design of a product or structure using simulated loads and constraints. CAE tools are often used to analyze and optimize the designs created within CAD software. These tools include simulation, validation, and optimization of products, processes, and manufacturing tools.

 

Bibliography

[1] G. Rui și z. Ma, „The direction of footwear computer-aided design in Chin,” 2010 IEEE 11th International Conference on Computer-Aided Industrial Design & Conceptual Design, nr. 1, pp. 222-225, 2010.
[2] A. Luximon, Handbook of footwear design and manufacture 2013, first ed. Elsevier, 2013.
[3] S. B. Ghodsi, „Atossa 3D Printed Footwear 3D printed Footwear,” 2015. [Interactiv]. Available: https://competition.adesignaward.com/design.php?ID=43511. [Accesat 29 09 2021].
[4] „Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM),” Inc., 06 02 2020. [Interactiv]. Available: https://www.inc.com/encyclopedia/computer-aided-design-cad-and-computer-aided-cam.html.

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