We all are well aware of this poem from our childhood. Little did we know at that time, that with the onset of technology a time will come when the shoes will automatically loosen up and tighten, manage our steps and will be able to do things much beyond our imagination. Yes, there is advent of an era of “Smart Shoes” today, though a luxury at this point of time but can’t be discredited of their importance. Don’t forget there was a time when mobile phone was a luxury but today can we think of our life without them?!
Various smart shoes have been launched in the past such as Nike+ which can tell the ground contact and foot speed with the help of pressure sensors in the shoes. Adidas also joins the race with the launch of Adidas MiCoach which tracks the acceleration of sprint, power of your kick and much more with the help of shoe pods and MiCoach app. Such kind of shoes helps sports persons to keep track of their stance, posture, speed and helps in improving their performance.
Smart shoes can also come handy in looking after and supervising vulnerable family members like small kids, old parents, and Alzheimer’s patient. A company named GPS Smartsole had launched shoes with inbuilt GPS tracking system in shoes. This can help in keeping track of the wearer’s location. Such kind of shoes can also come handy in the current scenario when women are not safe anywhere.
Travelling is a passion, and some people especially backpackers want to feel the true soul of the city. So they explore every nook and corner. Smart shoes can help them in a great way. Shoes by Lechal in synchronous with an app in your phone will tell you when to turn right or left by vibrating. Also they will vibrate if you left your phone somewhere. This technology surely comes in handy at a time when we all have forgotten our phones at some point or other.
The latest in the entry are shoes by Digitsole which can heat your foot up to 30° C. Also you can tighten or loosen your shoes according to your size just with a click on an app on your smart phone. Also it will let the user know when it’s time to change its sole. This comes in handy in the winter season, particularly in the areas like US, Russia etc. where there is freezing cold in the winters.
With every opportunity, come the challenges, and smart shoes are not exceptions to this. The primary key challenge is to find the USP which prompts a user to buy a pair of Smart shoes. No matter how different shoes are from each other but with the advent of technologies it doesn’t take much time to get new technology to become obsolete.
Other challenge is to have green source of energy for the shoes so that there are no harmful effects on the user due to prolonged use if the shoes. Also there is a concern of increase in the dimension and weight of the shoes due to use for such source of energy. Ideally the source should be sustainable, changeable and chargeable. There are concerns about the sensor size and durability as they will be constantly under the feet facing a lot of dirt, water and not to forget the impact which shoes received.
But there are a lot of avenues open due to the introduction of smart shoes, scientists can try to harness the energy because of the motion of the wearer. It can also be further used to cure or prevent diseases, and in some cases even detecting the diseases. Also such shoes can be used for advertisers for the promotional purposes like playing audio commercials as that of the nature of shoes. For e.g. the shoe by Lechal could promote AirBnB, Oyo rooms, Goibibo etc. and much more.
In the end, we can say there are plethora of opportunities which the advent of Smart shoes have opened for us. We should capture the opportunities but by keeping in mind these words by Simon Drabble, director of BU Interactive at Adidas:
"The key to the adoption of any new technology is to make it non-intrusive and to deliver a meaningful benefit to the consumer. As technology is advancing there are new ways to implement it into footwear and apparel that did not exist in the past and if the products can meet the needs of a consumer and solve a specific need then there will be a good chance of adoption."