Thermal imager helps develop cooler running shoes

18 October 2011

The Adidas test centre in Scheinfeld, Germany, has used a FLIR ThermaCAM SC 3000 thermal imaging camera throughout the development of its latest technology.

The concept behind ClimaCool technology is fairly simple. When athletes start to run they start to sweat. This not only gives them an uncomfortable feeling, but when the feet start to sweat and get hot and wet, there is the possibility of the runner getting blisters.

The Adidas researchers identified which part of the foot was getting the hottest. Once this was determined the company began to develop the ClimaCool2 running shoe, with the aim of draining as much heat as possible from these areas of the feet.

After careful evaluation Adidas decided on the the ThermaCAM SC3000 thermal imager to help it look at the feet, as it offered high thermal sensitivity (0.02°C) and high resolution (320 x 240 pixels) enabling the smallest temperature differences to be identified and also to  measure the temperature at 76,800 individual measurement points. Additionally, producing images at a rate of 50 Hz with very short integration times allowed researchers to see blur-free images and to measure even small changes in real-time when the athlete is running at full speed.

This made it possible to see immediately how the shoe was reacting to the temperature differences in the foot over a period of time. FLIR ThermaCAM Researcher software was used to undertake extensive thermal analysis on the obtained results.

Tests comparing the new ClimaCool2 running shoe, the original ClimaCool running shoe and a standard running shoe showed that ClimaCool2 offers up to 32% more cooling to the foot than traditional running footwear and a 12% increase in cooling over the original Adidas ClimaCool shoe.

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