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11. Soft robotics

This week I worked making a prototype of an insole for flat feet. The idea is to inflate where the feet needs to be elevated and create a perfect fit.


Most of the research I found are projects made in a professional way and high quality. I learnt the structure is key in this product in terms of where the air or liquid should move and we should think in the space left to inflate more or less depending on what the needs are.

The project

So I researched the flat feet sole and the total area touches the ground floor. Its needed to have some support to help the feet get ¨high¨ and stay in the correct position. Instead of gel we can use air to create an air chamber. With this option the consumer can control the amount of air that goes inside and adapt the insole to its own feet.


So I made some drawings to understand the structure and think about the specific areas to work with. Then I made the line of my own feet in a 1:1 scale to make a real prototype. Then as was using Vinyl so I tryied to understand the skeleton of every part.

Doing the Basic prototype

  • What I used
  • Vinyl
  • Baking paper
  • Iron machine
  • Piece of fabric
  • 5mm open tube
  • Shrink tube

I first cut the baking paper. I had to be sure the part where the 5mm tube was going to be had 5mm too. Then cut the vinyl with the insole shape. One side the same and the other must be the mirror. Check where is the paste side of the vinyl and place them one against other and the baking part in the middle. Just where I needed to inflate. Then cover with the piece of fabric and iron it pressing for about a minute. The key is the baking paper isolates the material so the vinyl is not going to glue in that part and allows the air or liquid go inside.

I did it and my first result was this:

What happend? didn't worked. It was complicated to inflate and didn't get so high.

The insights:

I decided to simplify the pattern to help the air go through. Use just a few lines and let more space between them.

The result was this:

And it worked!!!!!

Soft Robotics inflatable insole from Ana Correa on Vimeo.

This is a prototype of a concept idea about using soft robotics for feet confort. With much more time and developement this can be a real product.