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Publication numberUS20020138923 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/817,989
Publication dateOct 3, 2002
Filing dateMar 27, 2001
Priority dateMar 27, 2001
Publication number09817989, 817989, US 2002/0138923 A1, US 2002/138923 A1, US 20020138923 A1, US 20020138923A1, US 2002138923 A1, US 2002138923A1, US-A1-20020138923, US-A1-2002138923, US2002/0138923A1, US2002/138923A1, US20020138923 A1, US20020138923A1, US2002138923 A1, US2002138923A1
InventorsIrshaad Shaffeeullah
Original AssigneeIrshaad Shaffeeullah
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and apparatus for producing individually contoured shoe insert
US 20020138923 A1
Abstract
A method and apparatus for producing individually contoured shoe inserts. The apparatus scans a foot of a user and generates data signal representative of the shape of the scanned foot. The data signal is analyzed and modified by a processor based upon characteristics of the user's foot, qualities desired by the user and the manner in which the user walks. The modified data signals are provide to control an insert forming device which molds a blank template to produce an insert of a desired shape. The insert is provided to the user for the placement in a shoe. modified data may be stored in a memory device or on a recording medium for use at a future date to produce other inserts. Additional data for use in modifying the data signal may be provided by the user using a data input device such as a keyboard
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Claims(18)
What is claimed is new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent is set forth in the appended claims:
1. A method of producing a custom-made shoe insert for a person's foot, said method comprising the steps of:
a) scanning an undersurface of the person's foot to determine a shape of the foot;
b) generating data signal indicative of the shape of the foot scanned;
c) modifying the data signal to compensate for a defect of the person's foot;
d) shaping a blank template in accordance with the modified data signal to form the costume-made shoe insert; and
e) providing the costume-made insert to the person.
2. The method as in claim 1, further comprising the step of storing the modified data signal in a memory unit.
3. The method as in claim 2, wherein the stored data signal is further stored onto a recording medium.
4. The method as in claim 1, wherein modification of the data signal compensates for one or more characteristics of the person's foot.
5. The method as in claim 4, wherein said step of modification modifies a portion of the data signal related to a specified area of the scanned foot.
6. The method as in claim 4, wherein said step of modification modifies the data signal to alter a specified maximum height at the inside or outside of the person's foot thereby producing a custom-made insert able to adjust the amount of arch support provided thereby.
7. The method as in claim 4, wherein said information is operable for modifying the data signal in accordance with a constant height adjustment.
8. The method as in claim 4, wherein said step of modification modifies a portion of the data signal in accordance with a specified pad or depression of specified shape, size, position and thickness or depth.
9. The method as in claim 4, wherein said step of modification modifies a portion of the data signal in accordance with a specified constant percentage increase or decrease in height.
10. The method as in claim 4, wherein said step of modification modifies a portion of the data signal in accordance with a specified maximum height increase at the heel end of the person's foot.
11. The method as in claim 4, wherein said step of modification modifies a portion of the data signal by prompting an user to modify the custom-made shoe insert in a specified manner.
12. A device for producing custom shoe inserts, said device including:
a) means for scanning a foot of a user and generating a data signal representative of the shape of the scanned foot;
b) means for modifying the data signal based upon certain characteristics of the scanned foot; and
c) means for forming an insert from a blank template based upon a control signal from the modifying means.
13. The device as claimed in claim 12, further comprising means for inputting data to said modifying means for use in modifying the data signal.
14. The device as claimed in claim 13, wherein said inputting means is one of a keyboard, touch screen, combination mouse and display screen and disk drive.
15. The device as claimed in claim 12, further comprising means for storing the modified data signal for future use in producing additional inserts.
16. The device as claimed in claim 12, further comprising means for storing a plurality of blank templates for use in producing inserts a nd providing said blank templates to said forming means upon receipt of a control signal.
17. The device as claimed in claim 12, wherein said scanning means includes lasers for scanning a foot of a user and means for generating the data signal representative of the shape of the scanned foot based upon said scanning of the foot of the user.
18. The device as claimed in claim 12, further comprising means for delivering the insert from the forming means the user.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates generally to shoe inserts and, more particularly, to a method and apparatus for forming a customized shoe insert conforming to a person's feet and/or compensating for defects of the person's feet. The present invention provides a method and apparatus for digitizing the contour of the undersurface of a person's foot and to an improved system and method for forming such custom-made shoe inserts.

[0003] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0004] Apparatuses, systems and methods for forming custom-made shoe inserts conforming to a person's feet and/or compensating for defects of the person's feet are disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 4,454,618 entitled SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR FORMING CUSTOM-MADE SHOE INSERT (issued Jun. 19, 1984), and in U.S. Pat. No. 4,876,758 entitled SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR FORMING CUSTOM-MADE SHOE INSERTS (issued Oct. 31, 1989). In accordance with such apparatus, systems and methods a foot impression unit is employed for forming an impression of the undersurface of each foot. The foot impression unit includes a housing for supporting the foot, an array of pins supported by the housing for controlled movement to operative positions in contact with the undersurface of the foot (or a sheet of flexible material disposed between the array of pins and the foot) to form the impression, and a locking mechanism for thereupon locking the pins in place to retain the impression. Additionally, the foot impression unit may include provisions for holding a foot with defects, such as pronation (an inward deflection of the foot), supination (an outward deflection of the foot), fallen arches or the like, in a corrected position while forming and retaining an impression corrected for such defects. A pivotally-mounted sensing and shaping unit is either manually or automatically driven laterally and to-and-fro across both the retained impression and an insert blank to mechanically sense the impression and to remove material from the blank in conformance with the sensed impression, thereby forming a custom-made shoe insert from the blank.

[0005] Since the custom-made shoe insert is formed with a foot supporting surface substantially conforming to the undersurface of the very foot for which the insert was formed, it provides better and more comfortable foot support than is provided by conventional insoles and standardized shoe inserts. Moreover, if the custom-made shoe insert was formed from an impression corrected for foot defects, the custom-made shoe insert will tend to compensate for those defects. However, a disadvantage of the foregoing apparatuses, systems and methods is that they employ a more expensive and less portable apparatus than desirable to facilitate their widespread adoption and usage in retail shoe stores, podiatrist's offices, and other such customer or patient service locations of the footware and footcare industries. This disadvantage is at least partly due to the fact that the foot impression unit has typically been combined and employed together with the sensing and shaping unit at each customer or patient service location or has been transported in its entirety from each such location, where an impression is formed and retained, to a central shaping location, where the sensing and shaping unit is used for mechanically sensing the impression retained by the foot impression unit and for shaping an insert blank in conformance with the sensed impression to form the custom-made shoe insert.

[0006] Another disadvantage of the foregoing apparatuses for forming custom-made shoe inserts, is that they employ a foot measuring unit for producing electrical analog signals indicative of the contour of the rear, side and upper surfaces of the foot and must therefore also employ a converter to process those analog signals and convert them to recorded laser/copy foot model data. This adds to the cost and the bulk of the apparatus employed at each customer or patient service location to obtain and record such data. Another disadvantage of the foregoing systems and methods is that they do not provide for on-line modification of the recorded laser/copy foot model data at the customer or patient service location to compensate for defects of the foot visually observed at that location. Another disadvantage of the foregoing system and method is that they do not provide for locking the pins of the foot measuring unit in place to retain an impression of the foot formed by those pins. This precludes a visual inspection of the impression formed by the pins of the foot measuring unit to verify the accuracy of the impression and to help in evaluating and discussing with the customer or patient what modification of the recorded foot model data might be most appropriate to compensate for defects of his or her foot. Still another disadvantage of the forgoing systems and methods is that the attachment of the pins to the moving elements of tubular variable capacitors and the use of such tubular variable capacitors to determine the displacements of the pins adds to the complexity and reduces the pin-packaging of the contour measuring blocks. This increase both the cost and the bulk of the foot measuring unit, while decreasing the resolution and, hence, the quality of the impression formed by the foot impression unit.

[0007] Numerous types of methods for making individually contoured shoe inserts have been provide in the prior art. For example, the U.S. patents listed and described below all are illustrated of such prior art. While these units may be suitable for the particular purpose to which they address, they would not be as suitable for the purposes of the present invention as heretofore described.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,000,082 Inventor: Nguyen Issued Dec. 14, 1999

[0008] A method for making a customized orthopedic device utilizing a pre-made sole having a plurality of elongated members extending from the bottom of the sole and inserting each of the elongated members into apertures of a cutting device. Once inserted through the apertures, the distal tips of the elongated members contact a resistance layer which resists the downward movement of the elongated members. A person's foot is then rested on the topside surface of the insert; thereby depressing the insert and elongated member tips into the resistance layer. The compressive force of the foot against the resistance layer tends to confirm the insert about the plantar aspect of the foot. A cutting mechanism is then used to cut the elongated members. The finished product, is customized to the foot of the person and is ready to be inserted into a shoe

U.S. Pat. No. 5,275,775 Inventor: Riecken Issued: Jan. 4, 1994

[0009] An insert forming apparatus and method is provided for making an insert to conformingly fit a shoe and a person's foot within the shoe. The method for practicing the invention includes using standard molding techniques to form a mold of the bottom of the last and using the mold to vacuum form a lower shell half that conforms to the bottom of the last. With the lower shell half covering the mold and having vacuum communicating holes drilled therein, the last is placed in the lower shell half and the upper shell half is drawn down over the last and lower shell half by vacuum forming. When the upper and lower shell halves have been formed, a hole is drilled in the lower shell half for injecting curable material. A sheet of fabric or leather is placed over the lover shell half, a person's foot is placed on the fabric or leather in the lower shell half, and the upper shell half is placed over the person's foot and fastened to the lower shell half. Curable material is then injected into the lower shell half between the lower shell half and the fabric or leather, thus forming an orthotic appliance that conforms to the shoe and to the person's foot.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,164,793 Inventor: Wolfersberger Issued Nov. 17, 1992

[0010] A shoe size selection system using a foot image to obtain measurement information in three dimensions leading to a proper shoe size recommendation. The system provides a computer program that interprets three-dimensional information about a foot and calculates the key features that relate foot length and girth data that affect the comfort and fit of a shoe. Apparatus is used to allow the computer to reproduce on a viewing screen the results of a scan of a foot and to indicate on a chart a preferred shoe size for a foot may be normal as to physical form or abnormal as to physical form.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,128,880 Inventor: White Issued: Jul. 7, 1992

[0011] A method is provided for measuring bottom facing surfaces of foot which comprises the steps of placing a foot against a reference surface within the scanning field of the scanner, scanning bottom facing surfaces of a foot, and electronically displaying the scan of the foot bottom facing surfaces on a visual display to produce a scanned foot image articulating distances of portions of the foot bottom facing surface from the reference surface. The electronically displaying step may further include assigning gray scale values to distances articulated to produce a scan foot image comprising more than two gray scale intensities so that a grey scale image with a stereoscopic appearance is provided. Alternatively, the electronically displaying step may include assigning color hues to the distances articulated to produce an image comprising more than two spectral hues so that a color image with a stereoscopic appearance is provided. In addition, a method is provided for measuring bottom facing surfaces of the foot which includes a step of electronically displaying the scan of the foot bottom facing surfaces on a visual display to produce a scan foot image distinguishing regions of the foot bottom facing surface exerting different pressures against the reference surface and assigning grey scale or color values to the foot pressure regions. In addition, a system for topographically mapping bottom facing surfaces of a foot is provided.

U.S. Pat. No 4,876,758 Inventor: Rolloff Issued: Oct. 31, 1989

[0012] A foot impression unit is provided with an array of gauging elements, a control mechanism for urging the gauging elements into contact with the undersurface of a person's foot to form an impression of the undersurface of the foot, a locking mechanism for releasably locking the gauging elements in place to retain that impression, and a sensing mechanism for scanning the gauging elements to produce laser/copy signals indicative of the positions of the gauging elements. These laser/copy signals are stored and processed by a computer to provide a stored data record serving as a laser/copy representation of the impression of the undersurface of the foot. The computer may also be employed to provide stored additional information for modifying that data record to compensate for a perceived defect of the foot. In response to the stored data record and any stored additional information for modifying that data record, a shaping unit shapes an insert blank to form a custom-made shoe insert conforming to the undersurface of the foot and compensating for any perceived defect of the foot.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,800,657 Inventor: Brown Issued: Jan. 31, 1989

[0013] Disclosed herein is an insert for a shoe, boot, or the like which is capable of plural adjustments so as to adapt the insert to the unique physical conformation of the wearer's foot, to hold the foot in a neutral axis position substantially at all times, to return a foot into the neutral axis mode automatically, and to provide a wide range of support, resiliency, and angulation based on the needs of the user. The device as set forth lends itself to modification for various sports where lateral motion is of primary importance, shock absorption and longitudinal extension of the foot is of paramount importance, or for geriatric patients whereby a single insert and the modifying devices associated therewith address the vast spectrum of orthopedic needs.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,745,927 Inventor: Brock Issued: May 8, 1988

[0014] An orthopedic shoe cushioned insert having a cushioned plate member with a first and second attachment means and a method of operation thereof are disclosed. Here, the cushioned plate member is comprised of an upper and a lower plate member being attached together preferably with a two-sided tape there between, as well as providing a cushion effect thereof. The first attachment means is coupled there below the bottom front portion of the lower plate member for suitably wrapping around an ailing or injured toe. The second attachment means is coupled there below the bottom back portion of the lower plate member for suitably wrapping around a foot. The orthopedic shoe cushioned insert is reversible; i.e, usable for either a right or left foot, as well as effective for managing arthritic ailments of toes or joints there of, such as “halux rigidus”, or the like.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,745,290 Inventor: Frankel Issued: May 17, 1988

[0015] The disclosure is directed to a method and apparatus for making a custom shoe based on non-contact measurements of a particular subject's foot. A foot is placed at an inspection position, and a laser beam is directed at the foot, and scanned in a predetermined pattern over the surface of the foot. The light beam reflected from the foot is detected at a position detector. Surface coordinates of the foot are determined as a function of the detector output. The determined surface coordinates are stored and can then be used in making a shoe having a shape which depends on the stored coordinates. In a preferred embodiment, a rotating scanner is disposed above the inspection position and an oscillating reflector is disposed to one side of the inspection position. The beam of light is reflected from the rotating scanner to the oscillating reflector to the foot, and the beam reflected from the foot is thereafter reflected back to the oscillating reflector, the rotating scanner, and then the detector.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,503,576 Inventor: Brown Issued: Mar. 12, 1985

[0016] An orthopedic appliance and a method of making same in which the appliance is for use between a foot and a shoe, boot or the like and includes an insert which is to be placed between the foot and the boot, the insert is to be custom formed to correspond to the contour of an individual's foot. The insert is initially heated until its volume expands, thereafter the insert is placed on a platform and the two are adjoined to the foot. A vacuum bag is slid thereover, a vacuum is formed within the bag, and thereafter the insert takes the configuration of the bottom face of the foot. Additionally, foot pressure may be applied to augment the degree of conformation of the insert to the foot, and in other embodiments an additional heel insert is placed below the major insert, and a crest piece is placed between the ball and toe area of the insert on the underside thereof so that this additional material can be bonded to the major insert and also conform to the user's foot.

U.S. Pat. No 4,454,618 Inventor: Churchod Issued: Jun. 19, 1984

[0017] A system and method for forming a custom-made resilient insert for a given person's shoe in which the contour of the support surface of the insert conforms to the contour of the undersurface of a person's foot.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

[0018] The present invention relates generally to shoe inserts and, more particularly, to a method and apparatus for forming a customized shoe insert conforming to a person's feet and/or compensating for defects of the person's feet. The present invention provides a method and apparatus for digitizing the contour of the undersurface of a person's foot and to an improved system and method for forming such custom-made shoe inserts.

[0019] A primary object of the present invention is to provide a method and apparatus for producing individually contoured shoe inserts that will overcome the shortcomings of prior art devices.

[0020] Another object of the present invention is to provide a method and apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts which is small in size and able to be positioned in a desired location for easy public use and access.

[0021] A further object of the present invention is to provide a method and apparatus for forming custom made shoe inserts which is able to overcome the previously-mentioned and other disadvantages of the foregoing prior apparatuses, systems and methods.

[0022] A yet further object of the present invention is to provide a method and apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts which is able to facilitate more widespread adoption and usage of such methods and for thereby making custom-made shoe inserts more generally available to the public.

[0023] Another object of the present invention is to provide a method and apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts which is less expensive and more reliable method for laser/copying the undersurface of a person's foot.

[0024] A further object of the present invention is to provide a method and apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts at a single central location wherein the impression of the undersurface of the person's foot is formed and scanned at a customer or patient service location to form the laser representation of the impression, the laser representation is stored at the customer or patient service location and transmitted or sent to an adjacently located shaping location, and the custom-made shoe insert is formed from the blank at the shaping location in accordance with the stored laser representation and provided to the customer.

[0025] Another object of an aspect of the present invention is to provide a method and apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts wherein conventional copying equipment and techniques are utilized to control the forming and scanning of the impression of the undersurface of the person's foot, the forming and storing of the laser/copy representation of the impression, the transmitting of the stored laser representation, and the forming of the custom-made shoe insert from the blank in accordance with the stored laser/copy representation.

[0026] Additional objects of the present invention will appear as the description proceeds.

[0027] A method and apparatus for producing individually contoured shoe inserts is disclosed by the present invention. The apparatus scans a foot of a user and generates a data signal representative of the shape of the scanned foot. The data signal is analyzed and modified by a processor based upon characteristics of the user's foot, qualities desired by the user and the manner in which the user walks. The modified data signals are provided to control an insert forming device which molds a blank template to produce an insert of a desired shape. The insert is provided to the user for placement in a shoe. The modified data may be stored in a memory device or on a recording medium for use at a future date to produce other inserts. Additional data for use in modifying the data signal may be provided by the user using a data input device such as a keyboard.

[0028] To the accomplishment of the above and related objects, this invention may be embodied in the form illustrated in the accompanying drawings, attention being called to the fact, however, that the drawings are illustrative only, and that changes may be made in the specific construction illustrated and described within the scope of the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

[0029] Various other objects, features and attendant advantages of the present invention will become more fully appreciated as the same becomes better understood when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters designate the same or similar parts throughout the several views.

[0030]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a person using the apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts of the present invention to produce a shoe insert;

[0031]FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional side elevation view of the foot laser/copy unit of the apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts of the present invention showing the foot impression unit being employed to form an impression of the undersurface of a persons foot;

[0032]FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a custom-made shoe insert formed by the apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts of the present invention;

[0033]FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the custom-made shoe insert of FIG. 2 formed by the apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts of the present invention when shortened in length in accordance with a data record modification feature of the present invention;

[0034]FIG. 5 is block diagram illustrating the apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts of the present invention; and FIG. 6A and 6B are flow diagrams illustrating the method of forming custom-made shoe inserts using the apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE REFERENCED NUMERALS

[0035] Turning now descriptively to the drawings, in which similar reference characters denote similar elements throughout the several views, the Figures illustrate the method and apparatus for forming custom-made, individually contoured shoe inserts of the present invention. With regard to the reference numerals used, the following numbering is used throughout the various drawing figures.

[0036]10 customized shoe insert

[0037]12 foot

[0038]14 public area

[0039]16 patron

[0040]18 operator of apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts

[0041]34 laser/copy machine parts

[0042]40 foot laser/copy unit

[0043]50 apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts of the present invention

[0044]52 scanning lasers

[0045]54 processor

[0046]56 memory unit

[0047]58 shoe insert forming device

[0048]60 shoe insert storage device

[0049]62 output for customized shoe inserts

[0050]64 activation button

[0051]66 data input device

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0052] Turning now descriptively to the drawings, in which similar reference characters denote similar elements throughout the several views, FIGS. 1 through 6 illustrate the method and apparatus for producing individually contoured shoe insert of the present invention, the apparatus being indicated generally by the numeral 50.

[0053] The method and apparatus for producing individually contoured shoe inserts 50 will now be described with reference to the figures. In operation, the method of producing an individually contoured shoe insert is simple and inexpensive for all persons thereby allowing individuals to quickly make custom contoured shoe inserts.

[0054] Referring now to FIG. 1, the apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts 50 of the present invention is shown in a public area 14 for use by patrons 16 to create a custom fitted shoe insert. A patron 16 is shown placing a foot 12 on the foot laser/copy unit 40 for scanning by the apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts 50. An operator 18 of the apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts 50 presses an activation button 64 when the foot 12 of the patron 16 is correctly positioned. Pressing of the activation button begins the process of scanning the foot for producing the shoe insert. Once the foot 12 is scanned, a signal representative of the shape of the foot 12 is provided to a processor which analyzes the signal and generates a signal representative of a shape for the shoe insert. When analyzing the signal, the processor factors certain information including certain modifications to the insert which may be required due to the manner in which the patron 16 walks. Such information includes whether the user requires an insert which accounts for pronation (eversion) ramp correction, supination (inversion) ramp correction, insert thickness adjustment, pad/depression selection and placement adjustment, overall arch support adjustment, heel lift ramp adjustment, toe crest or sulcus limit adjustment, or insert length adjustment. This information is used to customize the insert to both the shape of the foot and the manner in which the user walks. The operator 18 may input data using a data input device for use by the processor in modifying the shape of the insert to be produced based upon certain characteristics of the patron's foot and the manner in which the patron walks. The processor then controls formation of the insert from a blank template and provides the custom made insert to the user.

[0055] The apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts 50 is shown in FIG. 2 and a block diagram of the apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts 50 is shown in FIG. 4. These figures show a foot laser/copy unit 40 constructed in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts 50 of the present invention and employed for digitizing a scan of the undersurface of a person's foot 12. The foot laser/copy unit 40 includes standard copy/laser machine parts 34 for forming an impression of the undersurface of the foot 12. When a user places a foot 12 on the foot laser/copy unit 40 as shown in FIG. 2, scanning lasers 52 as shown in FIG. 4 will scan the foot and provide a signal indicative of the shape of the foot to a processor 54 upon activation of the button 64. The activation button 64 is connected to a processor 54 which controls activation of the foot laser/copy unit 40 and the scanning lasers 52. When the activation button 64 is pressed or activated in any conventionally known manner, the processor 54 activates the foot laser/copy unit 40 and scanning lasers 52 to scan the foot 12 positioned thereon.

[0056] Once scanned, a signal indicative of the shape of the foot is provided to the processor 54 from the foot laser/copy unit 40. The signal is analyzed by the processor 54 which generates a signal indicative of the shape of the insert to be produced. Modifying the signal representative of the scanned shape of the foot may be desired to compensate for one or more defects of the person's right foot. Any such defects may be detected and the required modifications of the stored data record determined by visual inspection of the person's right foot, by visual inspection of the impression formed of the undersurface of that foot by the copy/laser machine parts 34, and by employing apparatus and techniques generally used in podiatry for this purpose. When determining the shape of the insert the processor 54 thus considers the shape of the foot as well as information concerning whether the user requires an insert which accounts for pronation (eversion) ramp correction, supination (inversion) ramp correction, insert thickness adjustment, pad/depression selection and placement adjustment, overall arch support adjustment, heel lift ramp adjustment, toe crest or sulcus limit adjustment, or insert length adjustment. This information is used to customize the insert to both the shape of the foot and the manner in which the user walks. The operator may also provide additional information for the processor to consider when generating a modified signal indicative of the shape of the insert to be produced using the data input unit 66. The data input unit 66 may be in the form of a keyboard, touch screen, combination mouse and display screen, disk drive or other such data input device and allows certain criteria to be input by the operator concerning the final shape of the insert. The signal generated by the processor 54 is then stored in the memory unit 56. The stored data record so provided accordingly serves as a laser/copy representation of the impression formed of the undersurface of the person's right foot by laser/copy unit 40 and defines a custom-made shoe insert 10, as shown, for example, in FIG. 2, conforming to the undersurface of that foot 12. The data stored in the memory unit 56 for each foot and any corresponding additional information for modifying that data may be recorded on a floppy disc or similar data storing device or recording medium for future reference.

[0057] An insert produced to provide overall arch support adjustment which compensates for arch problems, such as fallen arches, by modifying the stored data record as required to increase or decrease the height of the arch support provided by the custom-made shoe insert 10 shown in FIG. 3 by adjusting a selected percentage of the height of that support.

[0058] Adjusting the toe crest or sulcus limit adjustment provides a less confining fit by modifying the signal representative of the scanned foot as required to reduce or remove the toe crest or sulcus that is defined between the metatarsals and the toes and that would otherwise be formed is illustrated by the custom-made shoe insert 10 shown in FIG. 4. The length adjustment of the insert is employed to reduce the insert to a desired length and size shown by the insert illustrated in FIG. 4 may be necessary for certain tight-fitting shoes. As a part of the instruction for initiating the insert length adjustment, the user specifies a desired amount by which the custom-made shoe insert 10 should be shortened after it has been shaped. This specified amount may be, for example, one-fourth full size, one-half full size, or three-fourths full size (orthotic size).

[0059] The signal generated by the processor 54 is also used to control a shoe insert forming device 58 connected thereto. Upon receipt of a signal from the processor 54, the shoe insert forming device 58 retrieves a blank template from a shoe insert storage unit 60 for use in creating the insert. The shoe insert storage unit 60 stores a plurality of blank templates used to produce shoe inserts therefrom. The shoe insert forming device 58 then molds and cuts the blank template under the control of the processor 54 to produce the shoe insert. An output slot 62 is connected to the shoe insert forming device 58 for providing the molded customized shoe insert to the patron

[0060] The operation of the apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts 50 will now be described with reference to the figures. In operation, the apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts 50 is preferably positioned in a public area providing easy access for users. of the processor 54, the insert forming device 58 will form the blank template into a customized shoe insert as described in step S 18 and provide the insert 10 to the user as discussed in step S20. The user then places the shoe insert in the shoe for which it was formed as stated in step S22 and is able to walk more comfortably and naturally.

[0061] From the above description it can be seen that the method of producing individually contoured shoe insert of the present invention is able to overcome the shortcomings of prior art devices by providing a method of producing individually contoured shoe insert which is small in size, able to be positioned in a desired location for easy public use and access, facilitates more widespread adoption and usage of such methods and for thereby making custom-made shoe inserts more generally available to the public and provides a more reliable method for laser/copying the undersurface of a person's foot. The apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts is provided at a single central location wherein the impression of the undersurface of the person's foot is formed and scanned at a customer or patient service location to form the laser representation of the impression, the laser representation is stored at the customer or patient service location and transmitted or sent to an adjacently located shaping location, and the custom-made shoe insert is formed from the blank at the shaping location in accordance with the stored laser representation and provided to the customer. The apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts utilizes conventional copying equipment and techniques to control the forming and scanning of the impression of the undersurface of the person's foot, the forming and storing of the laser/copy representation of the impression, the

[0062] When a user desires to have a shoe insert 10 produced, the user places a foot 12 on the foot laser/copy unit 40 as described in step S2. Once positioned on the foot laser/copy unit 40, the activation button 64 is pressed to begin operation of the apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts 50 as stated in step S4. Upon activation of the button 64, the processor 54 activates the foot laser/copy unit 40 and scanning lasers 52 to scan the shape of the foot 12 as discussed in step S6. When scanning the foot, the foot laser/copy unit 40 provides a data signal representative of the shape of the foot to the processor 54 as described in step S8.

[0063] Upon receipt of the data signal, the processor 54 analyzes the signal as stated in step S10 and determines if the shape of the foot indicates that the user pronates, supinates or requires some other form of corrective measures when producing the shoe insert 10 and modifies the data signal based upon this determination as described in step S12. Additionally, information may be entered by the user through the data input device for use in modifying the data signal to thereby customize the shoe insert 10. The modified data signal is then stored in the memory unit 56 for possible future use as discussed in step S14.

[0064] The apparatus for forming custom-made shoe inserts 50 is now prepared to form the shoe insert. At this time the processor 54 activates the insert forming device 58 to retrieve a blank template from the storage unit 60 as stated in step S 16. Under the control transmitting of the stored laser representation, and the forming of the custom-made shoe insert from the blank in accordance with the stored laser/copy representation. Furthermore, the method of producing individually contoured shoe insert of the present invention is simple and easy to use and economical in cost to manufacture.

[0065] It will be understood that each of the elements described above, or two or more together may also find a useful application in other types of methods differing from the type described above.

[0066] While certain novel features of this invention have been shown and described and are pointed out in the annexed claims, it is not intended to be limited to the details above, since it will be understood that various omissions, modifications, substitutions and changes in the forms and details of the device illustrated and in its operation can be made by those skilled in the art without departing in any way from the spirit of the present invention.

[0067] Without further analysis, the foregoing will so fully reveal the gist of the present invention that others can, by applying current knowledge, readily adapt it for various applications without omitting features that, from the standpoint of prior art, fairly constitute essential characteristics of the generic or specific aspects of this invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
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US6823550Oct 29, 2001Nov 30, 2004Scott R. KantroDevices and methods for orthotic customization
US7120958 *Mar 19, 2004Oct 17, 2006Paul CopeskeyMass producible custom-made shoe inserts
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US7310564 *Nov 21, 2003Dec 18, 2007Vabene Gmbh & Co. KgArrangement and method for producing therapeutic insoles
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US7661170 *Jan 3, 2006Feb 16, 2010D2 Investments, LlcSystems and methods for providing a customized lower extremity product
US8250783Jul 26, 2008Aug 28, 2012Esoles LlcMulti-component footbeds
US8360973 *Nov 29, 2000Jan 29, 2013L'orealProcess for acquiring scanned image data relating to an external body portion and/or a product applied thereto
US8567081Sep 30, 2010Oct 29, 2013Northwest Podiatric Laboratory, Inc.Apparatus and method for imaging feet
US20020065456 *Nov 29, 2000May 30, 2002Roland BazinProcess for acquiring scanned image data relating to an external body portion and/or a product applied thereto
US20040111544 *Dec 9, 2002Jun 10, 2004Bennett Dwayne H.Method and apparatus for driving two identical devices with a single UBS port
US20040181976 *Mar 19, 2004Sep 23, 2004Paul CopeskeyMass producible custom-made shoe inserts
US20120010730 *Jan 12, 2012Christophe Guy LecomteFoot prosthesis with resilient multi-axial ankle
US20130232819 *Apr 22, 2013Sep 12, 2013Admark Athletic VenturesAthletic shoe incorporating an athletic positioning sole
US20150000157 *Dec 30, 2013Jan 1, 2015M-Support Limited CompanyManufacturing method of insole and insole manufactured by the method
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Classifications
U.S. Classification12/142.00N, 36/93, 36/88, 12/146.00M
International ClassificationA43B7/28, A43D1/02
Cooperative ClassificationA43B7/141, A43B7/28, A43D1/025, A43B17/00
European ClassificationA43B7/14A10, A43B7/28, A43D1/02C, A43B17/00