The sock is the sensor. All you need to wear is a small monitor to pick up the data, like whether you're landing on your heel or the outside of your foot. (AP Photo/File)

Smart sock promises fitness and health benefits

Get ready for smart socks.

Inventor Mario Esposito is taking the monitoring of running and walking to a whole new level. Not only will these socks tell you how fast and how far you've gone, they will give you the actual quality of your movement.

"We go way beyond that," Esposito said. "We are able to tell you the quality of your steps, something that nobody actually can do out there. We can tell you the gait for your foot. We can tell the pressure that you are applying on the ground."

Esposito has spent the last three years working like a mad scientist in his kitchen creating this sock, which is made out of sensing material. The sock is the sensor. All you need to wear is a small monitor to pick up the data, like whether you're landing on your heel or the outside of your foot.

And the Sensoria sock will give you instant feedback during your walk or run so you can change your stride or your step to improve your performance. "You will hear this voice, which we call the 'virtual coach,' and it tells you 'Hey, you are heel-striking. Try to land on your mid-foot,'" Esposito said. That information will come during your run or walk, in real time. "Now you don't have to go home to figure it out that you've done something wrong," he said. "In real time, you are able to fix it and to move forward."

So how did Esposito come up with this?

It all goes back to a day at a coffee shop when he'd run out of ideas for a product that could change the world. "One day my wife tells me 'You're getting frustrated. I'm going to get you a cappuccino and you might feel better and come up with something better,'" he said. "As I was coming back from the counter, she spilled some of the cappuccino on my sock."

That was his flash of genius. He saw the coffee blending into his sock and came up with the idea to create a sock that blended material and sensing technology.

He did all the research and development while working full-time on the Xbox at Microsoft, but four months ago, he walked away from Microsoft to focus on his invention.

Esposito believes his smart sock will help runners and walkers prevent injuries and improve their performance. And he sees a potential for expanding this product into healthcare, specifically for people with diabetes who are supposed to stay off their feet.

"We can help them to know that they are actually doing something that their doctor is telling them not to do, and the doctor on the other hand can actually monitor and prescribe a better solution for them," Esposito said.

Esposito and his company Heapsylon are holding a crowd-funding drive Thursday to get enough money to finish product development and manufacturing.

Chris Sullivan, KIRO Radio Reporter
Chris loves the rush of covering breaking news and works hard to try to make sense of it all while telling stories about real people in extraordinary circumstances.
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