Bonbouton, a diabetes technology company that took second place in the T1D Exchange 2018 Diabetes Innovation Challenge, announced this week that it will sign an exclusive licensing agreement with Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey.
Bonbouton founder and CEO Linh Le developed the company’s proprietary graphene temperature-sensing technology while working on his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Stevens. The company has designed a smart shoe insole that has the potential to detect diabetic foot ulcers. He spoke with T1D Exchange Glu earlier this year about his experience with both diabetes and scientific innovation.
“The more I learned about diabetes, the more I felt like the technology I was working on during my PHD could be applicable in this specific application,” he said. “Not only that, I was thinking about – how can I make an impact?”
Stevens, which is a shareholder of Bonbouton, hopes to help Le bring his product to market and continue to innovate in the field of smart clothing.
Space-age materials make insoles smarter
The core technology of the Bonbouton insole focuses on detecting the presence and growth of foot ulcers that can afflict people with diabetes – either type 1 or type 2 – as a result of prolonged episodes of hyperglycemia.
Before ulcers even begin to develop, high blood sugars can damage blood vessels and even nerves, which may result in both pain and/or a loss of feeling. These symptoms, as many people with diabetes know, are particularly pronounced in the hands and feet.
Thus, ulcers and other persistent infections can develop without the knowledge of someone with diabetes, eventually leading to severe and persistent damage. However, it is possible to detect this damage before it becomes irreparable.
The smart insoles pioneered by Bonbouton employ graphene, a “supermaterial” that’s shown immense promise in a wide range of industries, from garment manufacturing to spaceflight and aeronautics. Comprised of a flexible lattice of carbon atoms, graphene’s conductivity and resilience make it perfect for small, lightweight processors and computers.
Combined with simple temperature and pressure sensors, Le’s insole technology compares measurements across both sole and detects anomalies when it does, it can alert the user and their physician about the issue. Because the insole can slip comfortably into most normal shoes and sneakers, it can dramatically improve care and outcomes for people with type 1 diabetes.
According to the press release, Bonbouton is also working with MetLife to determine how its smart insoles will be able to reduce healthcare costs, and is in a technical development agreement with Gore, maker of GORE-TEX outerwear.
To read the full announcement, click here.