The “smart” shoe concept has been around for awhile now with various attempts to launch it into the marketplace. From students and researchers to large corporations, the insatiable desire to develop a “must-have” product keeps driving companies to invest time, money and resources into R&D. Perhaps that is why Apple’s “smart” shoe patents are piling up in the US patent office and other shoe companies are quickly following suit by acquiring technical textile manufacturers. But that’s enough biz speak, now for the fun overview.
Puma RS Computer Shoe
Long before the Nike+, Puma RS Computer Shoe was one of the world’s first “smart” shoes to hit the market. Launched in the mid-80s, the Puma RS Computer Shoe contained a microcontroller, a timer, and an “inertia” switch. After each run, the user would plug his shoe via cable to a Apple IIe or a Commodore 64. A program, on a floppy disk (remember those?!) would grab all the data off. Using calibrations of a runner’s stride length, normal running speed, height and wieght, the computer pulls out data from shoe to calculate distance, time and calories consumed. The shoe cost around $200 and 10,000 were produced.
Vintage Adidas Micropacer
At a similar time, the Adidas Micropacer was launched. More self-contained than the Puma “smart” shoe, the tongue of the Adidas shoe held the microprocessor which was linked to a sensor in the sole. The runner would get the display of data on an LCD via a push of a button. The shoe cost between $100-125 at the time and 50,000 were produced. William Johnson, a Brit, was credited as the Inventor of the “smart” shoe. He took his idea to Adidas in 1981. One small interesting fact is that Nike did market research and concluded there was no solid market for computerized shoe. Funny now that the Nike+ is probably one of the best known “smart” shoes on the market. But that was then… Read the NY Magazine article from 1985.
Adidas was suppose to be offering the 1984 Adidas Micropacer in its original colors, with a few material changes of course. But I can’t seem to find a link on their site.
The photo above of is of their latest designs. It’s available in different colors as well. These shoes will run you $250. Purchase Adidas Micropacer here. Stay tuned this week as I will cover more “smart” shoes.