Shoe technology is something that I love to watch. For years, we have been used to these composite materials that are in the shape of our feet and that we use for various activities. Shoe manufacturers have made some significant strides 🙂 in the area of making them be more suitable for our activities but what is the tech future of shoes?
New Balance and Sony Made Sneakers with E-Ink Displays
Remember the old Nike Shox? I think people actually thought they could jump higher because of those “springs” that Nike used. Nike also had their Air 360 running shoes that were supposed to make it feel like you were, you know, walking on air. ASICs had a pair of running shoes they developed for their Olympic distance runners that were made completely from rice husks for the ultimate in lightweight shoes.
Technology in Sneakers
That is the marketing aspect of shoe material but some manufacturers are pushing the envelope with technology as well. Under Armour has their shoes that have built-in tracking ability to send data to your phone so that you can see the miles you have run, how far, how fast, etc. I have tried them and they are pretty cool! But, I have a GPS watch that does all of that, I have earbuds that can do that, and I have my phone that can do that as well. Of course, it is nice to know exactly how many miles a particular set of shoes has without having to manually enter that information.
But, startup company Shiftwear took it a step further by actually installing e-ink displays on the sides of the shoes. This allows users to use their phones to change the images, colors, even put advertising material on the shoes. Plus, they self-charge as you walk or they can be put on charging mats. At present, their pre-sales are over and they are unable to do anything else until they get more cash.
The Sony/New Balance Tech Shoe – That Will Never Hit the Market
Big names New Balance and Sony recently revealed the product of their collaboration at IFA in Berlin with their e-ink equipped sneakers. These not only had e-ink displays on the side but they also had e-ink soles. This kind of shoe technology is not something that is really all that useful for most cases but looks better than the Shiftwear stuff!
Apparently, they have no plan on actually bringing them to market so you and I will never be able to buy this pair (if you wanted to!). Still, it brings up some interesting thoughts about where such shoe technology could go for areas like sports. Most of it would be instant reference points but who knows?
How Could This Technology Be Used in Sports?
It does bring up some interesting thoughts as to what this kind of technology could be used for. Would it be useful for anything at all? That is hard to say. If you were to mix that with other technology as far as tracking and such, the screens really do not help the wearer. I could see them as being something potentially useful for coaches or anyone training in a particular discipline.
Imagine working on your jump for basketball. If the shoes were equipped with sensors, jumping up and down could display the height of your last jump. Years ago, I think Nike had this type of setup where it would tell you how you did with workouts to give you an overall core score and that included jumping up and down on a mat. Having that information displayed right on your shoe could give you instant feedback so you don’t need to check your phone each time.
Another use would be for track and field events. You could see how far you jumped, how long your stride length is, how fast your release off the blocks was, etc. For baseball, when combined with smart bases, you could see how fast you ran to each base. These are just a few ideas and I am sure there are plenty of others. At any rate, these uses would all be for instant access, otherwise, people could just use smartphones or tablets.
I do hope we can see some of this technology at some point that actually adds some realistic purpose to the area of sports. However, for now, it is most likely a smart thing to never bring these to market as they are really not necessary for much of anything. But, I like the attempts!
Featured image from YouTube/New Balance/Sony