Sunday, March 18, 2012

Find Your Way With Smart Shoes

The Lechal shoes (shown above) give directions using haptic feedback

The Lechal shoes (shown above) give directions using haptic feedback

While Smartshoes are not a new idea–we have actually written an article about tech-savvy shoes before–they are generally aimed at the very young, the very old or the disabled. But now, a start up company in India is intent to change of all that with the Lechal.

Meaning “Take Me Along” in Hindi, the Lechal shoes are quite eye-catching. But that isn’t all they do. Those bright red shoes can also give you directions using a combination of Google Maps and haptic feedback. The makers of the shoe, Krisipan Lawrence and Anirudh Sharma, say that the ‘smartshoes’ change the process finding your way around from a complicated affair involving staring at a tiny screen or trying to read instructions to an instinctive, fun process.

Linking with your smartphone using Bluetooth, the shoes vibrate to tell you to turn left or right while walking so you don’t have to even look at your phone. You can configure the shoes with the accompanying app (which will be available for iOS, Android and Windows) or through gestures and movements of your feet. The shoes will vibrate to let you know they understood, which is pretty cool.

If you aren’t really a fan of the red swimming-shoes look, Lechal is also selling insoles so you can use this cool technology with any shoes you own, provided they fit.

As with all shoe technology, I wonder about the durability of such devices. While the insole lists ‘waterproof,’ I didn’t see anything listed on the shoes themselves. However, the device is still in the making, so perhaps that will be added later. The shoes run on a special rechargeable battery and, while I  also haven’t seen any expected battery life estimates, they come with a cool interactive charger that responds to audio and is a ‘fast charger,’ whatever that means.

While the shoes aren’t out yet, you can sign up for preorder on their website. Taipei Times said the expected retail price will be between $100 – $150 and the shoes/insoles come in US sizes 5 – 15.

Personally, I’m still a little skeptical about the durability and such. But they certainly sound awesome. What do you think? Would you use them?

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