Cyborgs and Sneakers

This blog is about lots of nerdy things, occasionally including trainers (or sneakers as they say in the US) which believe it or not might seem ultra cool (think Kanye West) but actually attracts a bunch of fanatics no less nerdy for the fact that they’re geeking out about something culturally acceptable.  In other words, I’m a trainer nerd.

So much so that I went to a session on technology and sneakers today.  There was a pretty lengthy but fascinating history lesson followed by a bit of chat about innovation in trainer materials and manufacturing, plus how digital tech is becoming more a part of our footwear.  The obvious example is Nike + but there’s also trainers that will check you into Foursquare and this was mentioned too:

Nike announces sneakers that tell you how high you've jumped

There wasn’t loads of time to chat about futuristic stuff, but the session got me thinking a couple of things:

With the development by Nike of ‘Fuse’ manufacture – i.e. fusing materials together with heat instead of stitching them, thereby making them lighter, will we soon be able to 3D print* our own trainers?  And if so what does that mean for the big companies like Nike, but also for small-scale designers desperate to get their ideas out there?  Will we see open source sneakers where designs are freely shared, but still pay a premium for blueprints by Nike’s top designers?  (yes, I am biased towards Nike as an Air Max 90 lover)

My other thought is that if trainers can be connected to the web and communicate with Foursquare, how soon will my trainers be able to communicate with other people’s trainers? A sort of peer-to-peer network of trainers.  Inspired by Amber Case’s session on cyborgs and location-based technology, could my Nikes communicate with my friend’s Nikes to let them know where I am if I’m meeting them in a crowd?  For example at SXSW could I have easily located which bars people are at in the city and then let my trainers guide me by buzzing me directions as I walk along?

Kinda fun and useful, but let’s not forget that I’m also a nerd for all things Social Change.  So really I’m thinking is there a way for a group of people, say #Occupy crowds**, or groups of local volunteers, or relief agencies, to use tech in their trainers to help find each other, group together, move resources, and generally be intelligent about what they’re doing on the ground?

For example if a volunteer’s sneakers could tell that there were enough volunteers in a particular area, could they guide them to the next place that needed help? Or if my sneakers could tell me that a big crowd was running in my direction could they help me get out of the way?

I’m really just thinking out loud here (can you tell?) but I’m really excited by the possibilities and I’m sure someone clever will think of amazing ways to use this technology. The Future is going to be supercool.

*More to the point when will we stop calling it ‘3D printing’ and just call it ‘printing’?

**I would LOVE to do a poll of how many people who’ve ever been in an #Occupy crowd*** wear trainers by the very corporations they despise. My guess is over 75%

***Other protest groups are available.

What do you mean there aren’t enough pictures of trainers in this post? Fine – here are the Best Sneakers of All Time:

Air max 90 infared

Or maybe these:

nike-air-trainer-1-premium-qk-1

Beauties.

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2 Responses to “Cyborgs and Sneakers”

  1. Paulc Says:

    More of a brogues man myself. Can’t see a pair of those tweeting. Not really.

  2. Gordon Rae (@socialtechno) Says:

    Excellent stuff. I never really got Fourquare, but if I could delegate it to my shoes, that would be a lot more useful.

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