Ballet slippers act as super skin that absorbs forces.
Inspiration from Nature
When Melanerpes Aurifrons pecks its beak, impact gets nullified before it reaches skull.
Ballet- an art form starting from15th century Italian Renaissance- is an extremely technical performance. Several types and grades of foot and ankle injuries arise in it. An inventor who wishes to provide ballerinas with comfort must understand the challenges linked to pointe, the silky slippers they use. Comfortable pointe slippers need to be envisioned, ones which adapt to the movement of the muscles like a reflex (re)action. At no cost should it interrupt the swift flow of the dance.
The organism selected for its cushioning mechanism is golden-fronted woodpecker (Melanerpes Aurifrons). When it pecks on wood, the impact gets nullified before it reaches the skull. It is made possible with the help of porous collagen layer between the beak and the skull, called cancellous bone. Pointe should also be able to neutralize an impact before it travels up.
It turns out that almost all case studies give emphasis to the cushioning of the toe. Which is only partially effective. The main impact here is temporal and dynamic in nature and is caused by the spinning of the toe. A centrifugal force which acts on the fully bent, outer arch of the foot attempts to uproot and displace the toe from its pivot. A slightly miscalculated resistance to this force can put tremendous pressure on the foot.
Ballet slippers are interlaced with threads of memory alloy which absorb impact. Proposed slippers have an interwoven pattern of silk (22- 24) and memory alloy thread (1- 3). The fabrication supports entire arching area (9) of the foot. Memory strings on the upper side of the foot (11) change their stiffness in response to the arching of inner side of the foot (14). Their support against centrifugal force (8, 10) make spinning comfortable. Pressure on muscles and tendons of the foot are relieved throughout the performance (7). And such assurance to the safety and comfort opens up new possibilities for ballerina.
Following are some useful resources from the design process of this nature gadget.
Row1Column1: A Closeup of Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Row1Column2: Skull of Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Row1Column3: Complications Cause dby Pointe Shoes in Biomechanics of Ballet
Row1Column4: Pointe Shoe Physics
Row2Column1: Ballet Slippers at 1000fps
Row2Column2: Pointe Shoe Components
Row2Column3: A Few Examples of Ballet Slippers
Row2Column4: Pointe Shoe Diagram
Row3Column1: Anatomical Analysis of Ballet Dancers
Row3Column2: Construction of a Soccer Shoe Toe (in Comparison)
Row3Column3: Self-Customized, Moldable, Weight-Distributing Insert for Ballet Pointe Shoes
Row3Column4: Toe Shoe Details
Row4Column1: Foot Posture Inside a Pointe Shoe
Row4Column2: Anatomy of Pointe Shoe
Row4Column3: Pointe Safety Tips
Row4Column4: Pointe Shoes Design Details