Foot smart and fancy free!

This is the first of many guest blogs (I hope!) that will address specific issues that relate to data, technology and the retail and leisure sectors & places. This first one is written by my digital design colleague Alex Oswald. Who will be first to adopt? Nike or Church’s Shoes? Thank you Alex for taking the time to blog.

It seems that there are no bounds to how far innovators will go to make our lives easier – or should that read lazier!

Last week I came across the latest item to be ‘digitised’ and it was in the form of a common shoe. Yes, an everyday accessory that we take for granted and is something that most of us already own and has been part of daily wear for centuries. No need for an instruction manual, you get taught it when you are young, like words of wisdom, handed down from generation to generation by your parents, seamlessly and effortlessly.

But it looks like all that is about to change if Dhairya Dand, an MIT Media Lab researcher has her way. Yes, not even the everyday shoe is going to miss out on the digital revolution, now that some bright spark at MIT has connected their shoes, via a removable insole which connects to your smartphone, which transmits small vibrations to your left and right foot indicating which way to turn as you walk around a city. With your smartphone staying firmly in your pocket. You don’t even need to go to the the tireless effort (and huge inconvenience!) of holding your hand up to study your smartphone map – now you can let your feet do the thinking and walking! It will even alert you to notifications and recommendations as you walk around, with a simple tickle, letting you know that there may be nearby shops or locations that may be of interest.

The Oxford Dictionary states that an ’insole’ is a ‘removable sole worn in a shoe for warmth, as a deodoriser, or to improve the fit’. It looks like this will have to be updated to cover navigation device, virtual map, alert reminder, foot tickler, etc., As technology goes ‘wearable’ it looks like it will be the obvious next trend along with watches and glasses – but just don’t expect to be able to take them straight out of the box and use them! You will now need an MBA from MIT.

No doubt this will be on Apple’s radar too, following shortly after the iWatch, iTV and iSock.

Courtesy of Fast Company: a video showing off the shoes in action is included.

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