Smart socks prevent foot sores for diabetics

A San Francisco-based startup Siren has come up with a fabric that contains microsensors. These are embedded in socks for diabetics. They have released these special socks recently and announced a $3.4 million investment from DCM, Khosla Ventures and Founders Fund.

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These Siren diabetic socks are powered by Neurofabric technology. The socks are capable of monitoring the temperatures of the feet of the diabetics. Diabetics typically suffer from damage to the smaller nerves that make them prone to foot injuries and ulcers which they cannot feel early on. Since their blood sugar is high and healing is impaired, the sores soon become infected and may lead to serious problems including gangrene and severe foot infections that may even necessitate amputation of the foot.

Over 100,000 people lose their feet or legs due to diabetes annually. Research has shown that 56 percent of diabetic foot ulcers tend to get infected and 20 percent of these infected foot ulcers lead to foot amputations. Further 8 in 10 diabetics who have had foot amputations do not survive beyond five years say studies.

The new diabetic socks would warn the users of foot injuries that need to be taken care of before they become serious. The temperatures in the inflamed areas where there is a sore would typically rise and this would set off the sensors say the makers. The Bluetooth within the sensors would send an alert to the wearer’s iOS or Android device this can warn the wearer of potential danger. They can get their feet checked before more harm is done. For those who do not have a smart phone, the sensors would send the signals to the Siren Hub from where staff can send in alerts to the wearer using landline or emails.

Siren co-founder and CEO Ran Ma said that this was a proven technology – the Neurofabric technology - that they would be putting within the sock fabric. Each of these socks is fitted with a dozen sensors. These do not need to be charged and can be easily machine washed. Wearers claim they are soft and comfortable too and feel like regular socks. They are being sold for $19.95 a month. A pack of five socks are provided initially and then fresh pairs are obtained every six months. By then the cell batteries within them are supposedly worn off. There is also an access to the Siren Hub that can help monitor the measurements from the socks.

The SirenCare socks won the TechCrunch’s Hardware Battlefield at the Consumer Electronics Show last year for its innovation. Over years it has developed into its present form. Ma added that sensors and electronics are getting more and more affordable, easy to use, small and cheap and can be used in myriad of ways. Use in diabetics is one of the avenues and more uses can be devised for these wearable technology.

Other teams of researchers are also developing technologies that can sense pressures at different points of the foot among diabetics to detect pressure ulcers before they are formed. Wearables are the next big thing in health technology space Ma said.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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