The SEAS group quickly began patent research after conducting interviews this past week as the group was eager to begin work on understanding what technology is available on the market today or what technology has been patented. In order to research and understand the technology or designs that have been designed already, we conducted prior art searches. For those who don’t know, prior art is information that is available to the public that can be found in a printed publication format. Basically, the SEAS group conducted prior art searches to see if our invention/idea has already been invented by using information that is published and available to the public. The team conducted prior art searches and discovered some exciting information!
In order to begin searching for prior art, we watched this video that helped us understand what a prior art search is and how to conduct a prior art search. Through the assistance of Ms. Meisner and Ms. Jo, we discovered that the two most popular search engines/databases for prior art searches are the Google Patent Search Engine and the United States Patent and Trademark Patent Search. After working with both databases for a while, the SEAS team thought that the Google Patent Search was easier to use and to provided more results. After looking into prior art searches, we organized our findings in a data table.
After delving into the seemingly never ending prior art, we discovered three patents that are related to shoe insoles/inserts. The first patent we found showed the large and non discrete shoe insole that is provided when purchasing running or hiking shoes. The insole was made for walking, hiking, and running on all terrain. Upon reading the (very long) background of the patent, it is clear that the patent was designed to aid in the over pronation of the feet which occurs when the foot makes impact with the ground and the foot rolls inward. While we liked the basic design of the shoe insole and how it allowed for individual movement, the insole was far too thick for everyday use in shoes aside from athletic shoes. Also, noticeably, the patent was designed for hiking and running shoes, but not for heels or flats. Creating a more versatile insole that is more compact but still offers the support of the running/hiking insole would allow the user to wear the insole and have the necessary support for their feet all day.
The second patent that I found was a patent for a shoe insert designed for the heating and cooling of the foot. The insert was designed for the heating and cooling of the foot using the exothermic or endothermic reaction caused by the reaction between a liquid and a chemical. One element of the insert that I liked, was how the insert comes in multiple sizes, small, medium, and large. The insert is used for both medical and non-medical needs. I liked the heating and cooling aspect of the insole, but I think that the sizing could improve, as could the design to make the shoe comfortable for long term wear and help with plantar fasciitis.
The final patent that I researched was the disposable hygienic shoe insole. The insole is soft, durable, and resilient. The insole being made of 80% nylon and 20% spandex, creates a fabric like texture of five layers, each with a different thickness. However, the design of the insole only allows for one time use. I would improve the durability of the insole so that it lasts more than one day. I would also make the insole more jelly-like and medically correct in order to help with plantar fasciitis.
In tenth grade, Sofia and I were members of the MIT Lemelson-InvenTeam in which we invented a non-electric pressurized cooling device. During InvenTeam, we had to spend hours combing through hundreds of patents. I had forgotten how many patents existed until I began researching the past few days. Using the technology that is already available to us, I am confident that SEAS will be able to create a working and effective prototype that will be able to assist hundreds of people with plantar fasciitis!