Wearable technology is only now becoming feasible, but already we're moving to step-on-able technology.
A South Korea-based company called 3L Labs is showing a Bluetooth-connected insole called the FootLogger at CES 2014. The insole packs eight pressure sensors and a three-axis accelerometer into your shoe so people can monitor activity levels, walking health issues, energy expenditures, therapy progress, and the onset of dementia or falling problems with solitary older people.
The device can gauge not just how many steps you've taken, but if you're walking duck-footed or pigeon-toed, how long your stride is, and how much pressure different parts of your foot experience. The company thinks that data can improve a person's fitness, health, and looks.
"Proper or improper walking not only can impact spine- and back-related issues, but can also have significant impact on person's image," said David Kim, head of 3L Labs' US operations. "There has been a dissertation on how person's walk can make person more or less attractive."
It's curious that even as the arrival of wearable electronics is pushing Nike to move beyond the shoe with its FuelBand product worn on the wrist, another company is headed straight for Nike's stronghold.
The company plans to sell one FootLogger insole for $100 or, for more monitoring possibilities, a pair for $200, Kim said. Both come with a gait-monitoring app; the basic package will come with a smaller USB-powered wireless charger, and the full package will come with a more elaborate wireless charger that also can update firmware and transfer data over a Wi-Fi network.
The FootLogger uses Bluetooth 2.1, because Bluetooth 4.0 isn't fast enough, Kim said. It's also got built-in flash memory to store the data it sends to its smartphone app.
The company plans to ship the products in the second half of 2014.