We will start with a review of active footwear market, economic, and psychological needs with current solutions. We will end with a look at an innovation created to dramatically meet the growing ankle, knee and foot injury reduction needs.
The market need
U.S. Athletic Footwear Industry Sales Grew 2 Percent to $19.6 Billion in 2017, NPD Group Reports[i]
Increased consumer involvement in sports and fitness activities drives demand for athletic footwear.[ii] The sports footwear market expected to grow due to three predominant trends:
- Increasing use of eco-friendly products
- Innovations in sole technology
- Growing preferences for premium and customized products[iii]
The market eclipsed in 2017 at a 17B growth of 3% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) after a history of 4% annual growth. See Annual Market Size Forecast by Geographical Region (2016-2024)[iv]
The economic need
The need for a sole that protects the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and knee is catastrophic as ankle and foot injuries result in lost time for 60-70% of active duty soldiers in the Army,[v] in addition to ACL injury costing the US an estimated $2 billion / year between high school, university, hobby and pro athletes. [vi]
Ankle injuries are the most common sports injury. There are approximately 20 million ankle injuries in sports per year, which represents approximately 30% of sports injuries, just in the United States. [vii]
The psychological need
Pro athletes and active military soldiers careers are curtailed if not ended as previously stated, causing psychological trauma in addition economic disruption. ACL injuries usually result in surgery to the tune of about $50,000 which can feel like a gouge, and pain killers risking opiod addiction, which is scary, stressful and a hardship to manage.[viii]
Current ineffective solution
A mix of using ankle wrap or high cut shoes or boots, and / or wrap or padding around the knees, along with training, stretching and careful movement have been the current and past solution for decades.
The problem has been an increase in knee injuries as shoes and boots made for active wear, have become more protective of the ankle, as can be seen in the graph below from Dr. Brown’s WPI Investor Showcase Presentation earlier this year [ix].
Increasing ankle protection has resulted in active footwear has resulted in increased knee injuries.
Cutting edge solution:
Sports Engineering, Inc.’s ankle, knee and foot injury-reducing sole innovation developed by Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Here is a video of the prototype:
SEI holds four patented footwear technologies including sole and binding innovations for athletic and casual shoes, boots, skates, skis and more, and has filed other applications.
The four patents cover:
- Dual-sole with self-recovering tuned springs emergency system for sudden impacts technology
- Skate boot force absorbing appliance
- Rapid response ski binding technology
- Ski binding plate
The self-recovering footwear sole technology is platform technology because it works for a vast range of segments. The basic concept of SEI’s platform technology is that horizontal load transmission from the playing surface to the foot is controlled by a specially engineered sole.
The design includes two soles stacked on top of each other to result in a split sole with a low-friction, spring-loaded interface.
For more information
[vi] https://sportsei.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Seaport-14-June-v7-compressed-3.pdf– Seaport Investor Showcase Presentation
[viii] https://sportsei.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Seaport-14-June-v7-compressed-3.pdf– Seaport Investor Showcase Presentation
[ix] https://sportsei.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Seaport-14-June-v7-compressed-3.pdf– Seaport Investor Showcase Presentation