At CES 2016, Digitsole introduced its “self-lacing” sneakers, inspired by Marty McFly’s infamous kicks from Back to The Future Part II. Now the company is looking to outdo itself with its latest line of connected running sneakers, specifically The Active Cushioning Run Profiler prototype. The name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and the sneaker certainly is not the most attractive sight to behold. Regardless, the overall idea is rather ambitious, but is it just vaporware?
In the past, Digitsole — in collaboration with Zhor-Tech — has released an array of Bluetooth-connected smart sneakers and accessories. Previously, a series of heated insoles, as well as a shoe known as the Warmin’ Sneaker were designed to help maintain an internal shoe temperature (up to 113 Fahrenheit) for optimal comfort during outdoor activity.
This latest Digitsole prototype is designed to create a more intuitive and ergonomic running experience overall. Currently, all of this hardware exists inside of the removable Run Profiler insole. A series of built-in sensors monitor pressure at specific points along the foot. These determine your “foot posture” in real time, allowing users to analyze stress, force, and general movement.
Based on this data, the Run Profiler insole can alert you through its paired app when there is an increased injury risk. With the current insole model, a built-in accelerometer tracks your basic metrics including speed, distance, calories, and steps. All of this information and the daily metrics can be accessed via the Run Profiler app. This app can also relay coaching advice and suggest tips to help improve your workout.
The Active Cushioning Run Profiler is not available for purchase just yet, however, Digitsole hopes to release the product by the end of 2017. To build on this preliminary step, Digitsole plans to eventually pair “adaptive cushioning” with the current Run Profiler insole in 2018. This will, at least in theory, enable the insole to respond to stress and compression points by shifting support as needed during activity. According to TechCrunch, the company plans to accomplish this task using a “NeoTech microcellular polymer which modifies the hardness of different zones of the midsole by introducing tiny amounts of energy.”
That is quite the technological gap to bridge indeed.
Again, the shoes are not exceptionally sleek or stylish. However, with more functionality, they certainly aren’t the late-night laughingstock that was NBA player Stephen Curry’s sneakers, the Curry Two Chefs.
While the insole is definitely a product to keep an eye on in the coming months, until the shoe serves a purpose other than something to slip said insole into, we probably won’t hold our breath on the fleet of smart sneakers just yet. Is this just hype from Digitsole, or can the company deliver these trailblazing innovations?
We will just have to wait to find out.