Detailed extensively on the artist’s personal site, London-based Dominic Wilcox has developed prototype shoes that utilize GPS location to guide a person to their next destination. Developed with the help of Northampton shoe maker Stamp Shoes and a technology expert named Becky Stewart, Wilcox created a pair of shoes that cleverly displays both direction as well as distance when a location has been uploaded with mapping software. On the top of the right shoe, the wearer can view a straight line of five LED lights that gradually turn on as the wearer gets closer to a specific destination. At the beginning of the journey, the shoe starts with a single red LED light and slowly adds lights to the progress bar culminating in a green LED light at the end of the walk.
On the top of the left shoe, the wearer can view a circle which indicates the direction that a person should be walking to reach their final destination. The LED light in the middle of the circle remains lit when connected to the satellite. The LED on the outside moves around the circle and the design simulates a line pointing in a specific direction.
When asked about the method of communication regarding distance and direction, Wilcox stated “I chose mini LED lights as they needed to be visible outdoor in sunlight. There were other alternatives like digital displays, but given the distance from the eyes, these LED’s seemed the best option.”
Interestingly, Wilcox has included a cool method to start up the GPS. Paying homage to The Wizard of Oz, the wearer only needs to click the heels together to activate the GPS. This is accomplished when a magnet in the right shoe comes into the vicinity of the sensor in the left shoe. This action activates the Arduino micro-controller in the left shoe and turns on the LED lights. Also inside the heal, Wilcox has stored the battery to power the micro-controllers and LED lights.
On the back of the left shoe, Wilcox has included a small antenna in a red, leather flap behind the ankle. As the antenna picks up GPS data, the left shoe utilizes wireless communication to send over proximity of the final destination to the right shoe.
In order to load a specific location into the shoes, the wearer must connect the shoes via USB cable to a computer and use custom software to pick out a specific destination on the map. Hypothetically, a future version of the prototype could use a mapping application on a smartphone to set a new location while the person is actually wearing the shoes.
Called the “No Place Like Home” shoes, Wilcox added a cute illustration on the bottom of the shoe that depicts a person walking through a town. The red leather lining and red laces were chosen as an homage to Dorothy’s red ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. Wilcox also included an arrow on the side of the shoe as another design feature to indicate the purpose of the GPS-enabled footwear.