Sunday, March 5, 2017

Smart Soles Make Smarter Shoes

Project Status: Concept
See also: Smart Socks - A Step in the wrong direction

Problem

Tracking your step count with a mobile phone is not extremely accurate and does cause extra drain on the battery. Wearing something on your wrist to track steps is pretty accurate but not as much so as something on your feet would be. Not everyone prefers to wear a wristband so having a shoe based tracking system would be a nice option to have.


Solution

I suggest that we make inserts, much like the insoles you see now for comfort. These smart insoles could track steps and relay information to other connected devices nearby such as your smart phone. They should be super thin and able to fit many types of shoes, just as insoles may be trimmed to fit various shoe sizes.

If they can be made cheaply enough, then they could be built right into comfort purposed insoles made today which are intended to be pretty disposable. If they aren't super cheap, then they should not be made for comfort but instead to be thin and to outlast insoles that could still be purchased separately if desired.


Powering it up

There are several ways to power these without the need for batteries that must be replaced, and no I wasn't thinking of added solar panels to the top of your shoes or tiny wind turbines, lol. The simple idea is to utilize your natural stepping motion to obtain the tiny amount of power needed for the device.

Each time you take a step there is a bending motion that occurs in the middle of the shoe. This motion could easily be captured to power the device indefinitely. Another option would be utilize the impact of each step, using the person's own weight as a driver to generate enough power.

While using body heat to power body sensors is becoming more and more common, I don't think this would be the most optimal use case for that type of power source.

Taking it a step further

Once this product was up and running, imagine what could come next. This technology would open the doors to more fine grain tracking of body motion, leading to better fitness applications and training optimization. 

Update

Just came across a smart socks project, which I think is not the way to go. 

What is a "draft" post?

This post is still in a draft state. Meaning that I have not done any or have done very little research about this topic. It also means that I hope to come back at some point and update the post with clearer descriptions and any applicable graphics related to the clarification of the idea.

I have basically only outlined my rough idea here until a point when I have time to come back and flesh this post out into something more useful to others. I went into a little more detail on another post about why there are so many pipe dream drafts on this blog.

It is notable to mention that the more views this page gets and the more interest it gathers, the more likely I will be to work on it before other drafts on this blog.