Throughout her studies in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and her work in a wound lab at Northwestern University, two concepts were ingrained in Ran Ma’s mind: start with a problem, and then find a way to prevent it.
As the CEO and co-founder of Siren Care, Ma’s pursuit of prevention started with a problem many people in the US face every day — diabetic foot ulcers.
According to the American Diabetes Association, about half of all people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy. This nerve damage can cause foot numbness, make sores and blisters heal slower, and lead to ulcers.
Ma said temperature monitoring is known to help reduce foot ulcers, but a good tool that implemented the idea didn’t exist. That’s how the Siren Smart Socks were born.
“It’s just a sock, but it can help you save your leg and your life,” Ma said.
Diabetic Socks vs. Siren Smart Socks
Regular diabetic socks help prevent ulcers by improving circulation and limiting moisture, but the Siren Smart Socks take things a step further. Here’s how they work:
- Each sock incorporates six thermistors into the fabric to measure the temperature of your feet
- These sensors take a comparison between the same spot on both feet and look for a change in temperature
- Continuous measurements across multiple data points are taken over time to determine potential inflammation or injury
- When the sensors detect a problem area, they immediately send an alert to the Siren Care app on your phone
“We actually take an object that diabetics wear every day — the diabetic sock — and we just give it intelligence,” Ma said. “So we fit into an existing ecosystem in the diabetic’s life.”
As of now, a four-degree temperature difference between feet results in an app alert, but Ma said work is being done to make the process more personalized. Because the Siren Smart Socks takes continuous readings, they’ll be able to determine what numbers are normal, or abnormal, for individual diabetics.
More Than Just Diabetic Socks
The Siren Care app provides a visual representation of your foot health at any time, but its uses extend beyond temperature monitoring. The app also tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, and more to encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Despite all that the app and Siren Smart Socks do, Ma said standard prevention and treatment methods — such as checking your feet every day, reducing activity when injuries occur, and seeking treatment for persistent problems — should still be followed.
“We do not replace standard foot care. We augment it. We add to it,” Ma said.
You can pre-order seven pairs of the Siren Smart Socks on the company’s website now for $120. The socks last for six months, don’t have to be charged, and are machine washable and dryable. Ma said the Siren Smart Socks will officially hit the market in the summer of 2017.