Super Shoes Lead The Way

Super shoe insole with a red sneaker

Many of us spend so much time looking down at our phones that we miss the world all around us. [Dhairya] hopes to change that with Super Shoes, a pair of enhanced insoles that let your toes do the navigating while you enjoy the sights. Each insole has a Bluetooth radio and a microcontroller. Three coin cell vibrator motors act as an output device under the small toes, while a capacitive touch pad under the big toe handles input. Careful positioning of the electronics keeps the foam insoles flexible.

Using the shoes is as simple as walking around. Say you needed walking directions. You would set the destination on your smartphone. The shoes would then tie in to your smartphone’s GPS and maps application. From there, it’s simply a matter of following your toes. If the toes on your left foot vibrate, turn left. Vibration on the right foot indicates a right turn. When your destination is at hand, both feet will vibrate rapidly to celebrate.

[Dhairya] envisions a cloud service called ShoeCentral which will store a database of the user’s likes and dislikes. Based upon this data, ShoeCentral will guide the user to new restaurants or places they may like. All of this and hands free? Where do we sign up?

Comments

  1. Honus says:

    That is a very interesting project. I can’t tell you how many people I see every day that walk around staring down at their phones, completely clueless as to what is going on around them.

  2. cyberteque says:

    A guy I know wanted me to build a thing like this for card counting at casinos, I declined!

  3. bobfeg says:

    I did something with a tennis shoe that was a bit similar…used Morse to input commands to a 1284p and a cell vibrator to output data. Used a coil so I could recharge the batts…. Had an unusual need that the strange project fulfilled.

    Imagine getting your shoes x-rayed at the airport with such a rig built in…lol

    • DarwinSurvivor says:

      Which is actually the genius part about making the circuit part of the insole instead of the shoe itself. Very easy to remove when going through secure areas or adverse weather (water and all).

  4. vonskippy says:

    Welcome to first world problems 101. Remember when people just walked around and went exploring when they were in a new town and if they needed directions they’d stop at a local shop and, you know, talk to people.

    • Sven says:

      Imagine the general panic if suddenly GPS or mobile phone service stopped completely for an extended period. People wouldn’t be able to find their way anywhere.

      • TacticalNinja says:

        It’s a bad idea to rely so much on technology. I mainly use my phone’s GPS to check periodically where I’m at, and rarely use the turn-by-turn navigation.

      • tekkieneet says:

        There was an animated documentary that explored that. Dilbert: Season 1, Episode 9 “The Knack”. When Dilbert drank from the cup of management that started a chain of event of knocking out satellites and all modern life style come to a halt… :)

    • Blue Footed Booby says:

      @Vonskippy
      I remember those days. They sucked. It inconvenienced me, and subjected innocent passers-by with my malodorous presence. It’s much better the modern way.

    • Me says:

      >>Welcome to first world problems 101
      …cause if it isn’t filtering drinking water or curing malaria it isn’t worth doing.

      >> just walked around and went exploring when they were in a new town
      Yup! All those people wandering aimlessly around third world towns really have it made!

  5. hemalchevli says:

    Figure out a way to recharge battery from steps, will be a nice addition.

  6. Genki says:

    Now if it can warn you of an approaching water fountain so you wouldn’t fall in one. Like that foolish shopper who was caught on the camera.

  7. Le Samourai says:

    Imagining an application for the blind… voice commands on phone (“navigate to so-and-so”), directions transmitted to bluefoot.

    • done before says:

      http://www.psfk.com/2014/03/vibrating-shoes-guide-blind.html

      Developed by India-based company Ducere Technologies, Lechal is a brand of interactive haptic feedback footwear that makes small vibrations to direct wearers to their destination.

      The system for Lechal was originally developed in 2011 as a navigational shoe for the visually-impaired. Designed by MIT graduate Anirudh Sharma, the Lechal shoe was designed to provide haptic feedback to the user to let him or her know where to go. Vibrations in the shoe would inform the user when and where to make turns while they are walking.

  8. Josh says:

    Reach destination and breakdown in giggles like a small child. Fantastic feature!

  9. TacticalNinja says:

    Would be a nice tool for the visually impaired.

  10. echodelta says:

    Badyear knows where you drive on their tires. Shoe Central…doom.
    For the blind, anything just for them. Not the bleeping beeping crosswalk signals now on the feds ADA list. They have vibrators or piezos in shoes for people with nerve damage to (dither) the feelings so they feel better feedback to walk safer.

  11. kaidenshi says:

    It would be awesome if this could be integrated with Ingress, though Niantic might consider it cheating. Really though, navigation in the game is done by audio cues, so I don’t see where this would be too different.

  12. Tom the Brat says:

    Nope! You still haven’t convinced me to wear shoes :D

  13. greenbacks says:

    I feel that the video is misleading because the shoe isn’t smart at all it’s just a bluetooth module with a couple of sensors that tickle you, but your mobile phone does all the thinking here are the shoe just accepts a couple of commands.

  14. Mike Szczys says:

    I like the idea of insoles rather than molded right into the shoe. This way you can swap them out to a different pair of kicks.

    Haptic feedback is a killer feature here but also the biggest battery killer. If it were just the inputs and BTLE I bet you could figure out energy harvesting and a supercap and make this work sans-battery.

  15. ite says:

    Siri, where is the nearest brothel?

  16. Rick says:

    I was all over this until “cloud!!11!!” had to be introduced.

    why store settings in someone else’s service or be concerned with such a feature before finishing prototyping? the insole/shoe concept doesn’t need to care about what OS for the smartphone, or where data is stored.

    It starts to sound like marketdroid involvment. And that sort of thing this early, sets off my personal skeev-o-meter. (patent pending of course! now with hi fi wi fi personal local cloud based social media integration!)

  17. Manfre says:

    Sounds like a fun project to work on, but doesn’t seem very practical. I’m not sure how this is better than software that makes the phone do several short vibrations for left and several long for right.

  18. Haku says:

    I forsee Treasure Hunt apps for this device in the future, where someone else sets the destination and you have to walk round to figure out the destination.

    Perfect for tourists wanting to explore the interesting spots of unknown cities without their head buried in a map or staring at their phone every 2 minutes trying to work out where they are and where they’re headed.

  19. peggus says:

    If only we could invent some kind of device that can transmit an audible signal through a medium directly to your ear so the phone could just tell you where to go. Perhaps tubes from the phones speaker to your ear would do the trick.

    • TacticalNinja says:

      Not sure if you are being sarcastic.

    • bwmetz says:

      Exactly. There’s already a hardware solution for this. It’s called a BT headset with turn-by-turn directions. Put local interesting spots into a custom map, etc.

      On a lighter note, is hands-free walking going to be the next bit of legislation to come from the perceived need to get people to pay attention to wherr they’re walking? Or lawsuits becausr people trust their shoes telling them to walk off a cliff?

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