It's a common sight: people walking down the street, most of them with their heads down and their eyes focused exclusively on their smartphones. It’s the price we pay for living in a modern society: smartphones help us get from point A to B and remind us to do those things we often tend to forget. However, the MIT Media Lab wants us to look up more when walking and have designed a smart insole for shoes that not only guides you to your destination via tactile sensation, but also takes you off your usual path.
“SuperShoes" allow you to navigate a city without needing to check your smartphone’s maps. Using Bluetooth to wirelessly connect to your smartphone, these insoles use the sense of touch to tell you where you’re going. All you have to do is input your destination via an app and then put your smartphone away.
Motors vibrate in the shoe insoles and respond to where you need to go next: if your next turn is left, your left foot receives a tickling sensation. If your next turn is right, your right foot tickles. The app even connects to your calendar and to-do lists and the shoes vibrate accordingly, for example, taking you to the nearest grocery store to pick up a carton of milk.
SuperShoes can even pinpoint items of interest as you walk through the city. Maybe the connected app knows that you like art based on other apps on your phone. The shoes can then direct you to the nearest museum. Perhaps you’re more into architecture. The shoes could then navigate you to an interesting building.
The idea is that using the shoes keeps you from relying on your smartphone to just get from point A to point B, adding more spontaneity into your journey, and allowing people to just get lost, wander and discover things about their cities and towns again.
If this technology is added to to that behind Google’s talking shoe, maybe you can also get your exercise in the process.