Living Healthy: Diabetes sensing socks

Remember the mood ring? Made of liquid crystal, it changed colors depending on your mood.

“We’re using this same technology where the color of the liquid crystal according to the background temperature to pick up changes in temperature in the body,” Kent State University professor John West said.

Along with a team from the fashion school and the college of podiatric medicine, West has developed a fabric that can be turned into a sensor sock for diabetics. 

“Any inflammation, any infection will cause an increase in temperature, swelling will cause an increase in temperature, poor circulation will cause a decrease in temperature and all of these things can be detected by this sock we’re developing,” Jill Kawalec from the Kent State College of Podiatric Medicine said.

Patients would put the socks on in the morning and if they notice a change in color, most likely blue or green which indicates heat, they would know to call their doctor. 

But they could also be used for much more.

“I think there’s a lot of potential commercial application for this work not only in the biomedical space but also as a fashion product,” Kent State Vice President for Research Grant McGimpsey said.

The next assignment is finding a fabric that has the proper stretch for a sock and will work with the liquid crystal. 

“It’s pretty mind blowing especially when you put it in the sunlight and all of a sudden the temperature colors start changing there’s so much potential for design,” Kent State Fashion Technologist Margatita Beitez said.

If all goes well they hope to have the sock on the market in two to three years at a reasonable price.