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Non-Skid Shoes

March 26, 2015

New footwear helps winter walkers get a grip on ice.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Ken Owen flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Ice-gripping shoes could help more elderly people get outdoors in the winter. (Ken Owen/flickr CC/BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Getting a grip with glass. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The fear of slipping and falling keeps many people indoors in winter—especially older people. That’s why Tilak Dutta and his colleagues at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute are developing ice-gripping shoes, described in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

Tilak Dutta (Toronto Rehabilitation Institute):

Most footware can do like a, maybe two, three, four, five degree incline, you can walk up and down that pretty well. These shoes can do a 20-degree angle on wet ice surface. So they just blew us away.

HIRSHON:

His colleague, Reza Rizvi, explains that ice has a thin layer of water that separates shoes from the ice surface.

Reza Rizvi (Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and University of Toronto):

So the trick is to break through that lubricating layer and actually grip the ice itself.

HIRSHON:

The new material has glass fibers that poke out of the rubber soles and grip the ice like micro-cleats. The team is working on ways to make the material longer lasting and inexpensive to manufacture. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.