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FED: Max's shoe phone close to reality

23 Jan 2009 5:04 PM
Subject: FED: Max's shoe phone close to reality FED: Max's shoe phone close to reality

ADELAIDE, Jan 23 AAP - Bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart made it famous but a Flinders University computer scientist may make the shoe phone a reality.

In the days of modern cellular technology, the idea of having an Agent 86-style phone inside a shoe might not seem particularly advanced.

But post-doctoral fellow in bioinformatics, Paul Gardner-Stephen, who first developed his device as an amateur theatre prop, insists there are practical and technological advantages.

It seems the shoe phone might offer extended battery life and could even be used in medical applications to detect falls or other medical emergencies and automatically call for help.

"Relaying voice communications via a shoe is technologically similar to relaying medical data for remote patient monitoring, such as pulse, blood pressure, blood oxygenation and so forth," Dr Gardner-Stephen said.

"And a shoe is a good location for housing the electronics required for storing and communicating these measurements.

"Secondly, because our feet, and therefore our shoes, conduct large forces as we stand and walk, energy can be harvested to charge the device during ordinary activity.

"A shoe-based device would not only be easy to wear, it could run significantly longer between battery charges."

Dr Gardner-Stephen said there was potential to develop the telephone function for use in home nursing and aged care facilities.

The shoe-based platform made it possible for the device to detect shocks and orientation changes resulting from a fall and then call for help.

The head of Flinders University's medical devices and technologies, Karen Reynolds, said the shoe phone demonstrated the potential for the integration of wireless technologies into everyday items.

"There is much interest and ongoing research into the use of advanced electronics, sensors and communication technologies to allow individuals to live independently in the home," Dr Reynolds said.

"Ideas that we used to see only on science fiction shows are now becoming a reality."

AAP tjd/tnf/mn=0A

FED: Max's shoe phone close to reality