Nike in early July filed a patent for an augmented-reality design system, and such brands as Adidas and Lacoste have tested augmented-reality experiences and shoe try-ons. There is also the new line launched by High Beam Shoes to enhance “Pokemon Go” fun by lighting up and playing music when users are close to a Pokemon. The shoes will be available in the fall.That said, some footwear firms are testing more robust VR systems as well as planning for a switch-over to all-virtual prototypes, akin to Adidas’ virtual footwear wall found in some of its stores.
Slyce’s Mann predicted that image recognition, augmented reality and possibly 3-D scanning could all unite one day to create a truly seamless buying process. “There will come a time when you’ll see a pair of shoes you like, you’ll be able to use your glasses or some other wearable to key in on those shoes, know what they are and maybe even buy them right there on the spot,” he said.Looking good is not enough — products of the future need to be high-tech wonders as well.
Already there are Altra and Under Armour sneakers that track distance and stride, while self-lacing or adjusting shoes are available in different iterations. Nike recentlystepped up innovation in that area. And a company called Powerlace, which raised more than $25,000 in a recent Kickstarter campaign, promises to use a person’s weight to auto-lace sneakers.
Then there’s Shift Sneaker — kicks that change color based on mood or fashion. The product is a creation of U.K.-based Rehabstudio. According to the firm, it uses “experimental technologies,” and although the concept is not available yet, it could be the next evolution of smart sneakers.The idea is that reactive textiles with adept fibers and mini LED lights change the colors of the sneakers via downloadable design packs. Colors can also change based on movement, temperature or location.