It looks like smart socks will soon become a reality, so I don’t see why we couldn’t have smart shoes, as well? After all, we want not only to optimize our workouts, but also track them as accurately as possible.
EU Project RUNSAFER was built as a solution for people who are not very physically self-aware and who tend to injure themselves when not running properly. This prototype is not an initiative of the European Union, as its name might suggest. Instead, it was brought to life by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany who also profess in five other European countries.
While other types of wearable tech rely on accelerometers to gather most of the data, the RUNSAFER shoes feature sensors for G force, direction, speed, force of impact and surface hardness.
Dr Andreas Heinig of the Photonic Microsystems IPMS lab pointed out that “Pulse-rate watches and chest straps record only vital signs like breathing and heart rate. In contrast, our running shoe medically evaluates and monitors training while jogging. It informs the runner for example of incorrect foot position, asymmetric loading, or warns of exhaustion or overload. There has never been a comparable device before.”
Since the RUNSAFER shoes are assisted by a smartphone, an app had to be created to act as an interface between the two. The shoes connect to the smartphone via Bluetooth, so there shouldn’t be any compatibility problems. There has been no word whether the shoes will work with iOS, Android or both. Dr Andreas Heinig explains that if the runner is found not to run properly, “The app could recommend running more slowly, for example, or rolling off the foot differently, suggest seeking a different running surface or stopping if necessary.”
Analyzing the jogging style is also possible on a website that will be put at your disposal, should you buy such a pair of shoes (provided first that they ever become commercially available). Of course, the data presented on the website is a lot more detailed than in the smartphone app.
The developers of the RUNSAFER have yet to disclose the launch date and the price of their product. Given the high potential of these smart shoes, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if a big name such as Adidas picks up the project and starts selling these worldwide.