For those of you who do not recognize the quote, it is from one of the greatest movies of all time...Forrest Gump. In the movie, Forrest was able to stumble his way into some of the greatest trends/events in the past century and it appears that he was inadvertently talking about another popular trend....smart shoes.
Over the past decade, we have seen just about everything made smart.....power grids, cars, homes, and even some home appliances. So why not make shoes smart? Just about everyone wears them, we all tend to own a lot of them (or maybe that is just my wife) and they are often used as statements by most of us. It does make a lot of sense to add intelligence to them. One can forget your car keys, watch and even (gasp!) your smartphone at home, but not many of us have left the house (at least sober) without our shoes!
So, what does making shoes smart give us and why would we care? It is a good point, actually. I get making cars smarter (reduced accidents, better fuel mileage, etc) and I get making your homes smarter....but shoes? Well, the benefits themselves are not necessarily revolutionary, they may actually deliver it in a manner that will positively impact the lives of many people...
Most of us wear at least a couple of different pairs of shoes/boots on a regular basis, so it makes sense to put the intelligence for the shoes not in the shoes themselves, but rather in removable insoles that can be transferred between different pairs. This is where REFLX Labs product, the Boogio, really shines. The Boogio (yes, this is the actual name) gives feedback on using the pressure and velocity of each step to provide accurate amounts of energy being used combined with the distance travelled throughout the course of the day.
The usage here may be widespread. As a runner, I try to accurately keep track of how far / fast I run by using a GPS-enabled watch. However, it does not tell me anything about how much exertion/trauma is being done to my body. By making the intelligence in the shoe insert, it provides much more real time feedback....ideal for athletes, soldiers and professions that are prone to overuse injuries (like nursing, as an example). Finally, the Boogio is being pushed to developers, who may one day use these sensor-based insoles as a basis for future video games and other uses.
Yes, there really are shoes that will take you anywhere...well, at least they will tell you how to get there anyways. Ducere has created the "Lechal" insole and it is quite cool. The idea is that the shoe (an insert for existing shoes) actually uses Google Maps (combined with vibration alerts) to help guide the person to where they need to be.
Now, my first thought was, "could you find a more frivolous product?"...and, I could not be more wrong, as I missed an obvious candidate to use this technology. The product was first designed to help guide the visually impaired in a manner that is much less intrusive / obvious than a smartphone or GPS enabled device.....smart.
I take my hat off to these two companies. They have found intelligent and useful ways to provide more information from a source that I wouldn't have thought possible. It truly has the ability to change how people work, and for some, to provide a great level of independence. As Forrest Gump would have said..."Magic shoes!"