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CSIopinion: The positive impact of technology

SIC spoke with Lise Pape, 1 of the 4 winners of the 6th edition of the Social Innovation Tournament hosted by the European Investment Bank this year in Latvia, Riga. She shares her inspiration for 'Walk with path'. 

Tell us a bit about your project and what inspired you to do this work

I started working on understanding the problems that we aim to tackle in 2014. I was inspired by my fathers Parkinson's disease, and started investigating impact on daily life for people with Parkinson's and people with multiple sclerosis. This led to the development of Path Feel and Path Finder. Path Feel is an insole that provides a vibrational feedback to the soles of the feet to improve balance, and it also holds a range of opportunities within health monitoring through machine learning. Path Finder is a shoe attachment that provides visual cues to trigger movement in Parkinson's. We launched Path Finder earlier this year, and will be working on Path Feel next.

Can you tell us the defining moment where you saw the impact of your project? 

One of the key things for me, has always been the user engagement. One of the first formal user tests we did with Path Finder was in the summer of 2016 (we have done many other tests before this time, but less formal, as in, not measured, but more relying on user feedback). Here, Parkinson's patients used Path Finder, and has a marked improvement. Their steps became more regular, and longer, and they were able to avoid getting stuck to the floor, as can happen. This feeling of being 'frozen' to the ground, can often result in falls, so being able to avoid it happening, can have major positive impact on someone's life. Since that time, we were able to launch Path Finder in 2017. We have since had several testimonials, which can be seen here: Knowing that someone is benefitting from your work, is very rewarding.

What will be your next steps? How do you aim to maximise the impact of your project?

Our next step is to further develop Path Feel, in order to be able to launch it by the end of 2018. In order to get there, we need to fundraise first. In order to maximise the impact of our work, we do a number of things; we work with researchers and clinicians for them to help us validate our products, we work with patient charities, for them to help us spread the knowledge of what we do, and we engage widely with users, to ensure that we truly create something that they want, and which meets their needs.

Additionally, we also seek to validate the products for wider user groups than who they were initially designed for. We initially started by looking at Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis, but there are so many other groups, such as the elderly, who we have identified as users, as the project developed.