GPS Shoes Help You Track Your Way Home
Wearable technology finds inspiration from children’s literature, and might shod guest writer, MAC’s feet very soon.
Okay, this story is about shoes and therefore it should not really be on this blog, but I just couldn’t resist looking into a new innovation that is hitting our high streets. And that is shoes that are fitted with GPS trackers, which are capable of guiding you to your chosen destination.
One of the first of such items that has been designed and marketed is by British product designer, Dominic Wilcox, who claims to have been inspired by Dorothy’s Red Slippers from the film, Wizard of Oz. Basically the shoes contain a GPS tracking device that can be programmed with a specific route; the wearer is then guided by a series of LED lights that flash red or green to indicate the correct route. The shoes are being manufactured by Nicholas Cooper, a Northampton-based traditional shoe maker, and they have named the shoes ‘No Place Like Home’ as a homage to the film from which the inspiration was drawn from, in which the main character, Dorothy, could simply click her heels together and find her way home.
In a recent interview, Wilcox said, “I decided to make a pair of shoes that can navigate you to anywhere you wish to travel to.
“I thought about the Wizard of Oz and how Dorothy could click her shoes together to go home.
“After uploading your required destination to the shoes via a piece of custom-made mapping software and a USB cable, the GPS, which is embedded in the heel, is activated by a heel click.
“It then communicates to the wearer via a ring of LED lights to point in the required direction.
“The shoe with the GPS wirelessly communicates with the right shoe that has a progress bar of lights to show how close you are to the destination.”
The ‘No Place Like Home’ shoes have a GPS reader embedded in the left heel. Wearers need to plug their destination into a computer programme, then upload it to the shoe using a USB cable. When out and about, they just need to click their heels three times to set off the internal sensors to turn on the device and, thus, if want to feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you know what to do.
Not to be left out, a start-up company heralding from India and called Ducere Technologies is all set to launch its own version of GPS-enabled shoes. These are called LeChal (apparently meaning ‘take me along’ in Hindi) and they vibrate to tell the wearer to go either left or right.
These items are not just aimed at fashion conscious techno-holics, though. The device, which is equipped with a detachable Bluetooth transmitter linked to a smartphone-app, guides the wearer using Google Maps and has a much more noble plan at its core. Krispian Lawrence, who founded the company with his friend, Anirudh Sharma, said, “We got this idea and realised that it would really help visually-challenged people; it would work without any audio or physical distractions. It felt so liberating not having to look down at your phone or being tied to anything.
“The footwear works instinctively. Imagine if someone taps your right shoulder, your body naturally reacts to turn right, and that’s how LeChal works.”
“Earlier, wearable technology was always seen as machine-like – nerdy glasses or watches – but now that is changing,” said Lawrence.
Dr Anthony Vipin Das from the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute in the southern city of Hyderabad who is testing LeChal shoes said, “It’s a perfect intuitive wearable item. You may forget to wear a belt or a helmet, but shoes…you can never leave the house without your shoes. LeChal solves orientation and direction problems; it’s a good assistant to the cane.”
However, those smart fellows over at GPS Shoe seem to be the first to the party when they stated to the market “Great solutions for Alzheimers and Dementia sufferers”, assuming of course that the person afflicted with these horrible problems would remember to programme the shoes in the first place.
In my house my wife is threatening to buy some for me so that I won’t have any excuse for not coming straight home from the pub…
Now you truly can follow your feet home!