The Florida State University, Tallahassee, and its High-Performance Materials Institute are leading a major partnership to develop the next generation of prosthetic limbs for military-veteran amputee patients, thanks to a new contract with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The two-year, $4.4 million VA Innovation Initiative (VAi2) project is aimed at addressing the shortcomings of current prosthetic socket systems by developing, testing, and delivering "Socket Optimized for Comfort with Advanced Technology" (SOCAT) prototypes.

The SOCAT project will deliver prototypes featuring a unique combination of advanced composite materials to enable an intelligent prosthetic socket system to monitor the socket environment and self-adjust for comfort. In addition, vital information on the socket environment, such as pressure, temperature, and moisture will be recorded by the system and wirelessly transmitted to orthotic and prosthetic practitioners to facilitate better patient care.

The first phase will focus on developing and testing the specific technologies for individual socket components. The second phase will involve the refinement of each system/material and the complete production of the prototypes.

The VAi2 launched in 2010 with the purpose of lowering the barrier of entry for innovative ways that the private sector, nonprofit, and academic communities can support the VA as it transforms into a 21st-century agency. In 2012, VAi2 became the VA Center for Innovation.