Wear Future on your Shoes

Those light-emanating kids shoes have been amusing kids and adult onlookers alike for over two decades now. Onlookers, that’s no more  the scenario. You can now flaunt canvas shoes with your favorite character moving around animatedly, magical moving pictures, or custom designs that change while you get heads to bow to look while you walk past. Even better, all you need is one pair of sneakers for all seasons, all occasions and all moods to make any style statement you want to.

From head gears to eyewears, rings to watches – as wearable innovations rise uphill, New York-based startup ShiftWear has developed high-tech customizable sneakers to take personalized kicks to the next level.

Sneakers are a regular sight in most of our closets, and the trusted old shoe has gone through many style changes, from sneakers with digital smart tags to self-lacing ‘Back to the Future’ Nikes.

Shiftwear’s high-tech customizable sneakers not just lets you pick and flaunt custom designs (still or animated) on the flexible HD display panels on the sneakers’ sides, but also own complete creative control over it by creating designs on ShiftWear’s app, which communicates the chosen design from your phone or tablet wirelessly to the shoes, in seconds. And if you think you are not a great master of your canvas, you also have the option to buy your favourite designs from artists all over the world via the Shiftwear app marketplace. The color or the engravings – it’s all customizable on the flexible E Ink color displays, to suit the user’s wish.

The HD panels are powered by batteries that thrive on a combination of kinetic energy from walking (“walk to charge” functionality) and a wireless charging option. Dependent on the type of imagery (static or animated graphics) selected by the user, the built-in batteries are designed to last up to 30 days. The soles are coated with durable Kevlar Fibers, which the manufacturer claims will resist normal wear and tear of traditional sneakers. To make it more attractive, the shoes have also been made waterproof, so you can machine-wash them. The cool pair of sneakers also features a backlight to help illuminate the designs in darker conditions.

This is however not the first time that shoes with integrated display arrangements have stirred someone’s mind. U.S Patent Application US20100223815A1 filed on Mar 6, 2009 describes a footwear comprising a display device integrated within its body for enabling the wearer and other onlookers to experience broadcast television, video, and/or audio files in an extremely portable fashion, and enabling a wearer to enhance his or her appearance through selective combinations of displayed visual material with the footwear. A receiver, integrated within the body, communicates audio and video signals, which can include live network television broadcasts and other streaming content, to the display device. The footwear thus can serve as a luxury item suitable for the dual purpose of providing the convenience of a portable television and video/music player, coupled with an enhanced means for expression of affluence or a selected lifestyle.

Another similar example includes U. S Patent US8464442B1, which discloses shoes with electronic graphic displays for enhancing the appearance of the shoe. The shoe has various displays, for example liquid crystal displays that display graphic patterns, colors, and designs. The shoe allows a user to download different colors and designs from a media, for example the Internet or a hard drive (memory storage media). A user can change his or her shoe style (e.g., appearance) when desired, and in some cases he/she can change styles (e.g., appearance) by pushing one or more buttons on the shoes.

To some, the ShiftWear e-paper sneakers seem a highly ambitious project, the crowdfunding campaign of which might or might not see major success, but despite all the apprehensions and raised brows, the desire of taking a walk in these ever-changing badass pair of shoes is still within the realms of possibility, and a prospect quite hard to resist. ShiftWear sneakers are currently funding on Indiegogo, having raised a significant percent of its US$25,000 goal in December. The funds being raised are aimed towards finishing the prototype before a planned mass production move. The minimum pledge for a pair of shoes is US$150, but in order to create the full-featured shoes, pretty hefty stretch goals must be met to start with, following which all of the technology has to integrate as intended to ensure shipments by mid 2016.

(Featured image source: https://cdn0.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/czO49BOmrDemgnijS9DACJlOQZY=/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/4313853/Shiftwear.0.gif)

Subhasri Das
Subhasri Das

Subhasri is a technocrat who enjoys reading between the lines of patents to understand their hidden value.


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