"Shoes that guide you home." That could be the advertising slogan for a pair of GPS-embedded shoes made in England.
The shoes were designed by British designer Dominic Wilcox, and are called, appropriately enough, the "No Place Like Home GPS Shoes" because they are designed to help direct you "no matter where you are in the world."
Given the name, no surprise that the footwear were inspired by Dorothy Gale, the famous Kansan in The Wizard of Oz who found herself lost and wished herself home by clicking her shoes. In this real-world homage, a magnet in the right shoe and a sensor in the left detects when the magnet is near -- indicating a click has occurred. This activates the GPS.
The bespoke -- British for "custom-made" -- shoes were commissioned by Global Footprint, a visual arts and living heritage program in Northamptonshire, England. On his Web site, Wilcox noted that the town is "famous for shoe making," part of the reason he decided to make "a pair of shoes that can navigate you to anywhere you wish to travel to."
The wearer uploads the required destination to the shoes via some bespoke mapping software and a USB cable. The shoes communicate to the owner through LED lights that point in the direction you should go to reach the destination. A bar of progress lights shows how close you are to your destination.
The shoes, which were created with interactive arts and technology expert Becky Stewart and Stamp Shoes, a Northamptonshire shoemaker, show one red LED light in the tip of the toes when the journey has begun. The journey ends when a green light appears in its place. The correct direction to proceed is indicated by which part of a circle of LEDs on the shoetip is lit.
The shoes use a battery similar to one found in phones, and the in-shoe software plots a preferred route to the destination. The GPS is located in the left shoe, and it communicates wirelessly with its right shoe brother. A red tag sticking out of the heel of the left shoe contains the GPS antenna, which is positioned in an upward position, and each shoe contains an Arduinos microcontroller.
In keeping with the shoes' orienting nature, the artist etched illustrations on the bottom sole that depict a series of landmarks, a dotted path, and the shoes' title. In a reference to Dorothy's red shoes, the inside of the shoe is lined with red calf leather.
The only inconsistency with the Dorothy theme, however, is that the bespoke pair are men's shoes. The artist has not indicated when a pair designed for women will be made.
Wilcox is a designer of objects, drawings and installations, and he said on his Web site that his time is spent "attempting to reveal the hidden surprises which are embedded within the banal, everyday things that surround us."
Posted: 2012-09-22 @ 5:25pm PT
Wow how cool is this!