1.8 – “Smart” Shoes

“High-Tech” is the new key-word. Engineering developments are fastly running beyond our mind capabilities. Fashion footwear industry seems willing to join this trend! In one of my most succesfull posts (3D Printed Shoes) I wrote about the innovative 3D printing machines in footwear. It was just the beginning!

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During the last fall season you might have got chance to meet people wearing footwear with lights. These are special sneakers “switching on/off” balancing with your walk. In a first time I was convinced this was just “field” for children (like that footwear with wheels which invaded the fashion kids market few time ago). With my huge surprise I have then been meeting adults, boys and girls, donning lights on their feet. This made me quite wondering about the original brand, how it works, any linked patent, etc. Well, here below what I’ve discovered so far and, starting from this, new developments about high-tech sneakers!

First, this “firefly” footwear works thanks to a LED  system installed on its heels. Patent US 9,526,294, B2 (Applicant: Troy Larsen, US; Date: Dec. 27, 2016) regards “Footwear with insertable lighting assemby”, having

“a sole structure with a cushion layer wherein a lighting assembly, having a switch, a power source, and at least one light source or LED, can be inserted and attached into the sole structure to provide external illumination from the footwear. The cushion layer exhibits a means for transmitting light from the lighting assembly secured within to the exterior of the footwear, the means for transmitting light can take the form of a polymeric material of at least partial transparency, in some cases having a fluid enclosed within or the form of a plurality of light transmission channels.”

This system seems taking advantage from a previous patent on the same topic: US 3,008,038 (Date: Nov. 7, 1961; Applicant: M.L. Dickens) titled “Shoe with electric bulb providing illumination”. Particularly, this old invention focused on people walking in darkness “or in dimly lighted areas” so to avoid any injury. It was just the beginning of a new footwear industry branch aiming to support new needs by Millenial customers.

Just one website for all: Led-Sneakers.com

Fashion industry, therefore, is trying to adopt new high-tech innovations to improve footwear, in terms of comfort, safety, responsability and health (aka, “smart shoes”). I may define this interesting branch as “Engineering Footwear Industry” (EFI). To what concern “responsible” shoes, I would like to suggest you to read my post 1.4.

If LED system was inititially installed on the soil of footwear to “switch on” the way to nightly runners, I’ve just discovered another innovative concept of sneakers involving the modern need to always connect to world.

Yes, readers! Cloud-connected sneakers are already in the market! In particular, these special shoes, as a result of collaboration among Fujitsu, SnowRobin and two universities in Japan, “use in-built sensors to track your data and create ‘walking experiences’ and games for the wearer.” In the article by wearable.com  Conor Allison writes that their tech is currently tested in lab, while already practical experiments are ongoing (aka PA-League Walk) to support professional Japanese baseball team.

Further inputs by this new tech regards the chance to simply track step data linked to a proper app on your mobile. See, you don’t need to be a professional athlete to enjoy it. It seems not just a game. Many companies are already offering their option about “smart shoes”.

Digitsole seems the first sneaker capable to connect, interact and shock absorb via smartphone.

The NIKE Patent n. US 9, 656, 146 B2 titled “Athletic Performance Sensing and/or Tracking System and Methods” (May 23, 2017) seems running towards this way by claiming a method linked to a user device receving data by its performance.

According to the above mentioned article by C.Allison nobody has already explored “the gaming element” to these smart shoes. I think it’s just matter of time!

My concept of “Smart Shoes” now goes far beyond cloud/LED devices. Shoe industry seems quite fascinated by high-tech. I suggest you another article at this regard by Techflier.com. Recently I could even speak about a “wedding” between a branch of this fashion industry and engineers.

In the market you may even find pumps with a color-changeable heel (as, ofc, linked to a proper app in your mobile) by Volvorii. If you’re a ballet dancer, like me, you may be even more addicted to the futuristic ballet slippers (aka, E-Trace Ballet Shoes) enabling to capture any dancer’s foot movement and trasform it into vibrant, multicolor and digital drawings on your smartphone.

e-traces

Inventors have already moved far beyond! Can you think about a shoe to tip/tap/type your friends via whatsapp! It’s just here, dears, and its name is Dorothy. Never imaged shoes connecting with Google Map? The answer is “Sneakairs”!

After reading this post, can you guess what glamorous step forwards the EFI is making just now? This topic is “thrilling” my curiousity more and more. I’ll keep you posted on any further futuristic step by this fashion branch. Stay tuned.


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