Grad student Erez Lieberman creates iShoe to aid in balance

Harvard-MIT HST student uses NASA know-how to help elderly people avoid catastrophic falls

HST student Erez Liebermann's "iShoe" was featured by The Associated Press on July 31, and papers across the country picked up the story. Liebermann is scheduled to be interviewed on "Good Morning America" August 1 about his invention.

The ''iShoe'' insole contains sensors that read how well a person is balancing, and could help elderly people avoid catastrophic falls.

The idea for the iShoe came to Lieberman while he was working at NASA last summer on a project to help astronauts regain balance after months in zero gravity. The work is part of preparations for long space missions, such as trips to Mars, which require astronauts to perform complicated tasks on the terrain soon after landing.

He and Katharine Forth, a visiting scientist at NASA who also works on the iShoe, had been touched personally by the issue of elderly falls, with each seeing a grandmother's health rapidly deteriorate after such an accident.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates 300,000 people annually suffer hip fractures, which are often caused by falls. On average, 24 percent of hip fracture patients aged 50 and over die within a year of the fracture. Many fall victims who don't die within a year end up being disabled the rest of their lives.

NASA tests balance with an expensive device about the size of a phone booth. Lieberman and Forth say the iShoe insole, slipped inside any shoe, solves the problem of portability and affordability, since the device would cost about $100.

Liebermann's newly formed company has applied for a patent and federal funding. Once funding is obtained, the iShoe could be for sale in 18 months, Lieberman said.

To read the full text of the AP Online story, see ABC News.