[Interactive Devices] Device of the Week III – GPS Shoes

“No Place Like Home” GPS Shoes
By Dominic Wilcox

Heavily inspired by The Wizard of Oz where a pair of ruby slippers allowed Dorothy to return to Kansas, Dominic Wilcox created this pair of GPS shoes using modern satellite. A ring of LED lights on the left shoes will point you in the right direction, while the right shoes indicates the progress bar (how far away your destination is).

How It Works?
A GPS unit in the heel of the left shoe communicates wirelessly with the right shoe and provides data to the integrated LED lights. The red tag visible on the left shoe contains the GPS antenna, pointing upwards.

A new destination be can be added via USB connection to a computer. 

How to start? Click both heels together! A magnet in the right shoe and a sensor in the left will detect each other. The whole device is controlled by dual Arduino micro-controllers and controlled by a battery pack.

At the beginning of the journey, the shoe starts with a single red LED and slowly adds light to the progress bar, displaying a green LED at the end of the destination. The light in the  middle of the circle indicates that it is connected to the satellite.

I chose mini LED lights as they needed to be visible outdoor in sunlight. There were other alternatives like digital displays, but given the distance from the eyes, these LED’s seemed the best option.

The Pros

The way the technology is installed in the shoes and how the whole device is designed made it easy on the eyes. They are not like what you would expect from such a futuristic, tech-laden shoes. People would actually wear it! Well, I would.

For someone who has bad sense of directions, I can look as if I know exactly where I am going.. even if I need to stare at my feet most of the time. Or maybe just take a few glances.

The Cons
I have been wondering whether the device is waterproof or at least withstand wear and tear. As you will be wearing the shoes on the streets, you may step on a puddle of water without realising it. There goes your hope of getting to your destination on time.

The uploading of a location via USB is quite a hassle as well. You have to pull out the inner sole to plug the cable in.

A Future Development
Currently, user has to connect the shoes to a computer software via USB to upload a destination. A future version of the prototype could use a mapping application on a smartphone to set a new location while the wearer has the shoes on.


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Believes in creating works that someone can not only see or touch but be part of, to be within them.

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