Just when you think you've heard the absolute wackiest idea for a consumer product, comes something like the uGale and blows you away. Thanks to Dutch tech-startup Vay Technologies, we can now have a HVAC system installed in our shoes - for our feet. The device is a smartphone-controlled shoe-insert that promises to keep your feet warm during freezing winters, and cool and ventilated during scorching summers. uGale also reportedly comes with shock absorbers for heel and toes, and are equipped with an accelerometer, and sensors for temperature and humidity. The developers of the smart insole have started a Kickstarter campaign with a target of â‚¬37, 000 ($40,000), and the project has already registered six backers with a total pledge of â‚¬1,339 on the first day of its campaign.
While a smart-insole in itself is not exactly a unique proposition, what does make this particular endeavor distinctive, is the scope and ambition of the project. Last September, a company called Digitsole had also launched a Kickstarter campaign for smart shoe inserts, the difference being, this time around, the developers are promising year-round care for your feet, whereas the Digitsole product only came with heating for the winter months. According to the manufacturer, the product offers users a solution to fight fungal and bacterial foot ailments that arise out of excessive sweating and lack of ventilation in footwear. The smart insoles will ostensibly take care of comfort and health of your feet, by helping to regulate temperature in the shoes, thereby preventing foot diseases in hot and humid conditions. The airflow is regulated with a micro-compressor, and can be controlled via Bluetooth 4.0 through a mobile app, which would be eventually made available on Android and iOS.
But the device is not just for consumers in tropical climes looking to get some relief from the unrelenting heat and humidity. It also promises to provide heating up to 40 degrees Centigrade (104 degrees Fahrenheit) during those chilly winter nights to prevent frostbite or hypothermia. The founder of uGale, who identifies himself as Ilias on Kickstarter, says "The best part of uGALE is the ductwork which distributes the injected air by micro compressors to the most inaccessible areas of the feet - Socks! The size and shape of the duct are designed in such a manner that it evenly covers the entire problem area." For its early backers, the company is offering a pair of insoles, a wireless charging mat and an AC adapter, all for â‚¬199 ($218).