Some developers might be all about adding fitness trackers and GPS locators to wrist bands, smartwatches or jewellery, but to others, that makes no sense. The one thing that’s guaranteed to control where you go, how fast you do it and which direction you take is your feet, so that’s where the sensors should be. And that’s exactly what Ducere has done with its new range of Lechal haptic footwear.
The Lechal haptic footwear comes in two distinct flavours: an insole and a pre-fitted shoe. The former is bluetooth enabled and slips inside your usual trainers, sending feedback to your smartphone to give you information like calories burned, location, steps taken and more. They’re also made of an anti-bacterial, breathable material, so shouldn’t end up stinking up your shoes too badly. If they do though, you can just wash them – by hand preferably.
The other option of course is the slightly more fully featured haptic shoe. Water resistant, they pack the same features as the insole, but add new hands-free commands, like tapping your toes on the floor to save a location.
Both insole and shoe however, have an excellent feature for navigation. You can set a destination on your smartphone before going for a walk and then just head off. As you go, vibrations from the haptic footwear will guide you to your destination, meaning you can have truly hands free navigation on foot, as much as you can in a car. This feature could be doubly useful for the blind, making navigation, especially in new towns, far easier.
They can even let you know if you’ve left your phone somewhere, as if you start to wander out of range, the footwear will buzz away at you also. It won’t lead you right to it, but it will stop you leaving the house without it.
Currently there’s no set in stone price for the Lechal footwear or in-soles, though some have discussed a figure around $100 for the latter. As it stands both the in-sole and the shoe are up for pre-order, or at least, you can register your interest for a pre-order. It’s not clear when these products will hit market either, so for now it’s all a bit up in the air.
While you might initially struggle to find people that will be willing to spend upwards of £50 on a pair of in-soles, there shouldn’t be too many problems for Lechal if its developers can get them to market before the scene becomes dominated by fitness bands and smartwatches. I’d also be interested to learn what the battery life in these products are, as if it’s not at least 24 hours, there could be a real problem.
These shoes – or at least the insoles- are one of the few wearables that caught my attention as being innovative and different. I’d certainly be interested in trying them out, but I’d want to do that before dropping £60 on them that’s for sure.