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Printed electronics discover horse injuries

Lameness is a problem in equestrian sports. Injuries are difficult to pick up, while early identification can be crucial in providing the correct treatment. A new research project in Norrköping is intended to demonstrate how flexible load sensors can be used to identify and prevent injuries to horses.

The aim of the project is to use printed electronics to place thin, pliable sensors between the horses hoof and shoe, with a view to eventually developing a tool to detect small changes in the horse's pattern of movement. Deviations in a horse’s normal movements may be an early indication of an incurred injury.

Sandra Pantzare and Elin Wollert are studying for a Degree of Master of Science in Electronics Design Engineering at Linköping University’s Campus Norrköping. They have developed the system as part of their Wireless Horse Sensor System degree project at RISE.

Thin, pliable sensors are placed between the horses hoof and shoe.

“This is my dream job; being able to combine my education with something I’m passionate about. Had I known that it was possible to develop one’s own technical solutions for horses, I would probably have developed an interest in engineering 13 years earlier. To be able to do something useful for horses and at the same time inspire an interest in technology in young people is both fun and very important,” says Sandra Pantzare.

One of the aims of the project is to demonstrate how one can combine an interest in horses and equestrianism with technology and research. By engaging students from Realgymnasiet (an upper-secondary school that lists horse and riding, animal welfare and technology among its study programmes) in development work carried out with Linköping University at Campus Norrköping, the project partners hope to encourage more girls to apply for technical courses. This project should be viewed as the beginning of a long-term collaboration aimed at attracting more women to train in engineering..