This week at CES 2018 Sensoria, in collaboration with VIVOBAREFOOT, is showcasing the VIVOBAREFOOT Smart Shoe. The principle behind this shoe was first discussed by these two companies at last year's CES event, although since then the technology has come a long way and to the point where a prototype of what is likely to be the finished product was on show this year. For those new to the VIVOBAREFOOT Smart Shoe, while this is in one sense just another smart shoe, it also marks a first for the smart shoe market in general. As the VIVOBAREFOOT Smart Shoe is aimed at runners who are looking to get more involved with the type of running that simulates running without wearing shoes.
At the event, we were able to take a closer look at the newest version of the prototype and it is clear it is still a little way away from the published 'coming soon' images you can find on the likes of Sensoria's website. So while the shoes do look a little plain and generic at present, they are expected to get a bit of a design overhaul before the product actually comes to market. That said, looks aside and what matters here is the actual tech inside. With these being barefoot shoes – most identifiable by the lack of sole depth compared to standard running shoes – much of the challenge for Sensoria and VIVOBAREFOOT was getting the sensors included in the shoe. The two have overcome this however by using super thin pressure sensors which look to limit the impact of the effects (and feel) of including the smart technology. The smarts are further amplified by the use of a detachable unit attached to the front of the shoe. Which seems to be a similar, if not identical unit to what Sensoria previously made available with its IoT-enabled socks.
While these shoes will immediately appeal to those looking for a more lightweight and natural-feel running shoe, it seems the two companies also view this product as one which could help to educate runners in general on barefoot running and its benefits. As in addition to the standard data collection associated with smart running products, the VIVOBAREFOOT Smart Shoe has the potential of acting as a learning tool. One which can measure specific aspects related to the form of the runner and use that information to help them improve on their barefoot running technique. With feedback on aspects like foot landing technique, impact score, and toe engagement available both in audio and visual from, in real-time and after the event. While at the more professional end, the suggestion here is the use of the technology inside the shoe will assist professional runners to identify and avoid bad habits, and decrease the chance of injury.
As for when interested buyers can expect the VIVOBAREFOOT Smart Shoe to become available – the wait is nearly over. There are currently no details on how much the show will cost when it hits the market and no exact date for release, although the two companies are expecting the IoT-enabled barefoot shoe to become available to buy before the end of Q1, 2018.