According to the World Health Organization, there are an estimated 3-4 million amputees worldwide, with a majority of the population living in developing nations. Yet, approximately 90% of healthcare funding goes to producing high-end devices for established markets.
Founded in 2015 by a group of MIT undergraduates, SmartSocket is taking strides towards normalizing the healthcare market on a global scale by empowering mobility. The current marketed solution offers a single, expensive sheath made of silicone. Their solution is to use granular, locally-sourced materials that align with the natural anatomy of the leg to establish a more comfortable interface between the patient and their prosthetic. In doing so, patients enjoy a more cost-efficient, relaxed liner that adjusts with the fluid shift and volume change in their residual limbs throughout the day.
SmartSocket began as a D-Lab project in which the student group was tasked with engineering solutions that fit the overarching topic, “Upper and Lower Limb Components.” Comprised of seniors Krithika Swaminathan and Erica Green, and juniors Trang Luu, Katelyn Sweeney, and Nick Schwartz, the team honed their idea throughout the semester and took their initial prototype to Kenya and Ethiopia for field testing.
After their trip, they worked on iterating their prototype. With support from a LEAP Grant and a fellowship through the MIT Tau Beta Phi, they were able to travel back to Africa and improve on their design. In 2016, SmartSocket competed in the IDEAS Global Challenge and received funding to continue developing and testing their product. Their goal is to be able to distribute their device in the near future to those who need it the most around the world.