Friday, September 21, 2012

GPS-Equipped Shoes Show You the Way Home


"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.

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