It seems odd to mention the pairing of technology and shoes, but on rare occasions the two do meet and the combination is usually pretty interesting.
Of course, more often than not the combination just spawns some really interesting looking shoes like the Nike Air Abuku. The Abuku is a Nike shaped aquarium that actually houses gold fish and takes on quite the interesting look, especially when you aren’t ready to see fish, and sand and water inside a Nike. The Nike DeLorean is another Nike shoe that is built more for fashion than something that actually is able to back in time or look anything like a sports car.
Of course, sometimes the marriage between shoes and science is actually functional. The University of Twente has formulated one such marriage in their newest research project they call the “Forceshoe.” The first thing you will probably notice about the smart shoe, is that it’s not really much of a shoe at all. In fact when you look at it, without really examining it, you might think it’s just a pair of sandals with some extra shock absorbers fastened to the bottoms.
The shock absorbers are actually a range of sensors that attach to a little computer clipped to the back of the wearer. These particular Forceshoes then measure all sorts of details about how a person is walking. At the moment, the primary use of these particular shoes is to help recent stroke victims. After a stroke, many patients have some sort of paralysis on one side of their body or another. Many of these people have to learn to walk all over again and that learning process can be aided if their personal trainers are getting digital feedback into how the person’s gait has changed compared to how most normal people walk.
While that is the practical application now, the research team that has put these shoes together thinks that there can be other uses developed. Prof. Peter Veltink says that the shoes could be used to actually determine how much wear and tear is being put on a person’s body over their manual working career because their walk will change a little when they have piled on several years of work. In addition to that, Xsens is looking to find a way to turn the shoes into something that can be used by sports teams.