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UNM part of project to create energy-harvesting smart soles for shoes

May 14, 2024 - by Kim Delker

An associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering is leading The University of New Mexico’s part of a $2.8 million project that will develop smart soles for shoes that contain integrated energy harvesters, mostly to monitor health conditions for military applications.

Nathan Jackson is leading UNM as one of two universities on the 18-month project (along with University of Utah) that also includes several companies, most notably INVIZA Health, the principal investigator. UNM is working with one of the companies, GP Plasma Inc., which is working on a large-area magnetron sputtering of piezoelectric aluminum nitride materials deposited on stainless steel large-area panels.

The project is part of INVIZA Health’s remote patient-airmen monitoring technology, which integrates machine learning algorithms to greatly enhance health monitoring capabilities for military and medical applications. The technology will allow monitoring of heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, body temperature, GPS location and more via embedded sensors.

“Think a more sophisticated version of wearable health monitoring systems that do not require charging,” Jackson said.

Jackson said his role will be to characterize the piezoelectric materials and energy harvesters as well as consulting on methods to deposit the piezoelectric materials.

Other companies on the project are Quanterion Solutions Inc. and Light-It Inc. The project is being funded by SEMI Nano Bio Materials Consortium and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.