Infused with a snarky personality and advanced mobile technology, these talking sneakers could put your personal trainer out of a job.
Humans were built for exercise. We’ve got massive muscles, a strong skeleton, and a metabolism that just begs to be used. In our hunter-gatherer years, the daily struggle for survival was all the workout we needed, but decades of inventing for convenience has left us stationary and fat. Now, we run on treadmills and take high-intensity aerobics classes just to force ourselves to break a sweat.
Even in our sedentary world, opportunities for exercise are everywhere–it’s the motivation that’s lacking. We sign up for high price gym memberships and personal training sessions only to come up with lame excuses for why don’t show up.
Being lazy used to be a secret between us and the couch, but a new collaboration between Google and Adidas could guilt us into action.
During the recent SXSW festival in Austin, the two companies revealed a “talking shoe” concept that delivers a running critique of your activity levels. Spend too much time in the seated position, and the shoe is guaranteed to have something to say about it.
“Using an accelerometer, a gyroscope, Bluetooth and some other off the shelf technologies, the Talking Shoe translates the wearer’s movements into funny, motivating and timely commentary,” explains designer Zach Lieberman of YesYesNo. “The things it says can be posted to Google+ by the user, sent to real-time ad units, if the user chooses to, and broadcast via onboard speakers. It can talk to the world and to the web,” if the wearer so chooses.
Stay stationary too long, for instance, it will say things like, “This is super-boring” or “Quick, someone check my pulse”, reports Ecouterre. “It might even start offering suggestions, such as a run or a game of basketball. Start getting physical, however, and the shoe will change its tune, noting “That’s more like it,” or “I love the feel of the wind in my laces.”
It’s not hard to see that this humor-based technology could actually be effective. We use all kinds of tricks and apps to hold ourselves accountable to our own fitness goals. The problem with these technologies is that they require our input to be of use. If you skip a workout or fail to reach a goal, they do nothing. These shoes, however, would intrude on our inner excuse-making process, make us laugh, and hopefully, be the push we need to finally get up and move.
“By bringing the personalization and intelligence of the Web to everyday things, we can make them more useful and entertaining,” the designers say. These connected and smart objects are sharing relevant information with us, turning chores into games and making us healthier.”
Unlike the Google Glass, however, neither company has plans of bringing the show to market just yet. But I wouldn’t be surprised if someone else seized the utility of this idea, and ran with it. Literally.
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