We looked into the smart running shoe trend back in 2017, but given the rate at which this technology has exploded, our news is old news.
These days, manufacturers are all over the board in terms of innovation, introducing high-tech cushioning and foot control devices that claim to make your run smoother or at the very least more comfortable. Then there are “memory” components marketed to appeal to consumers who crave the latest and greatest.
That stated, smart running shoes are here to stay. Athletes may as well get used to this footwear niche because it’s not going anywhere, writes John Davis for RunnersConnect.
Davis refers to scientific studies evaluating “perceptual illusions” about the efficacy of a shoe’s cushioning, for example.
Why are smart running shoes important?
Because thanks to innovations, “your shoe will fit you perfectly,” notes Kieran Alger whose Wareable article tackles the subject from every aspect.
He calls the relationship between feet and biomechanics “unique” thus the use of new materials, smarter print technology and “the need to reduce environmental impact is moving us closer to a world where 3D printed, bespoke shoes are a reality,” he adds.
Artificial intelligence-driven, sensor-laden shoes are increasingly clever at reporting back on running behaviors. Says Alger, “adidas is already testing the technology and Salomon has recently developed…technology where the lower part of the shoe—including the drop, cushioning and the outsole—can be customised to work with your biomechanics.”
Injury prone? Under Armour’s smart chip battery is not just engineered to outlast a pair of running shoes past the 300 miles recommended to guard against injury, but designed to keep tracking performance so accurately, developers insist that battery will tell you when it’s time to replace your shoes, thus avoiding future injuries.
Not so far into the future…
Scientists envision a world in which a runner walks into a shop and subjects her feet to 3D scans that creates a unique footprint. The computer-designed model takes just days to produce and land on your doorstep.
At present, sensors are being installed outside running shoes because wearers find them more comfortable, says Angus Nelson, cofounder at Stryd.
Typical of these are the Under Armour Speedform Gemini 2 and 3 and the Altra Running IQ. When it comes to chips in shoes, some challenges still need to be conquered, adds Nelson, but uniformity may have to be compromised since all shoe companies own specific niches (e.g. Hoka wide bottoms; Nike’s waffle plates).
The ultimate goal is finding ways to take running data from individuals and adapting shoes to the way that person runs.
Under Armour remains on the leading edge with its chip-laden HOVR Phantom Sonic. Boost and Nike React technology imbeds lightweight chips into foam that senses when a runner steps off, then captures distance, stride length and cadence metrics.
Sensoria’s three smart shoe sole sensors can track the way the foot hits the ground. There are myriad other innovations being explored by every smart running shoe wannabe manufacturer on the planet, so keeping up with this technology is going to be no easy job down the road.
Are smart shoes getting too smart?
You don’t have to be a technological wizard to know that just about everything you do in life these days is being monitored, assessed and analyzed, which is why Kieran Alger’s prognostication, “Your running shoes will know you like Netflix knows you,” shouldn’t surprise you. While it’s great that your proclivity for film genres can help streaming services create menus filled with movie picks you may not be able to resist, how do you feel about the idea that your running shoes are fast becoming data collectors, too?
Nurvv smart insoles are embedded with 32 sensors and will offer so many other benefits, you must read about them to believe them. You can acquire these $300 accessories, and could wind up with the smartest feet on the planet.
Smart shoes and online races: A marriage made in heaven
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of all comes with your desire to take part in online races that require you to upload the distances you run up electronically, so you are free to take your run and your participation wherever your travels lead you.
The electronic devices now doing that job are fast being replaced by smart shoes capable of collecting that data and reporting it to entities like Spacebib.
Peruse online events currently listed on the Spacebib menu to see how many opportunities you will have in the near future to synch up your smart shoes so totals are sent directly to your Spacebib account.
The end result? Your totals can be verified faster and more accurately. It’s the wave of the future. And an ideal merging of fashion, function and futurism.
How willing are you to spend the kind of money it will require for state-of-the-art smart running shoes? What would you be willing to give up to make that happen?