Meet Apple’s “Smart Shoes”

Shoes for Men by JDurham | MorgueFile

Shoes for Men by JDurham | MorgueFile

Apple-centric website Apple Insider discovered an interesting Apple patent application last Thursday. Based on the application, the iPhone maker is planning to manufacture a sensor and an alarm system that can be embedded into footwear, allowing users to have an empirical way of deciding whether a shoe needs replacement.

Apple’s “Shoe Wear-Out Sensor” Patent: What You Need to Know

Filed last July 2012 at the US Patent and Trademark Office, Apple’s patent application is titled “Show wear-out sensor, body-bar sensing system, unitless activity assessment and associated methods.” The patent aims to make “smart shoes” that can notify users when they need replacing.

As the Cupertino-based company describes it, shoes not only provide comfort and protection. They also offer feet stability during strenuous activities like training or sports. Through continued use, its support decreases, thus reducing the effectiveness of its protection. Basically, a shoe will reach a “critical wear level,” wherein it may no longer provide enough support and could possible cause foot damage. Therefore, a solution for this is a sensor and alarm system.

How the Shoe Wear-Out Sensor Works

The patent has three main components: A detector for sensing when a shoe wears out, a processor that measures the detector’s data, and an alarm that will notify the user when a shoe is no longer stable.

In relation to this, the sensor could be an accelerometer, pressure sensor or piezoelectric flexing sensors. The data will be processed through an algorithm, which can be set according to the specifications of a shoe manufacturer. This will determine whether the shoe is already at its threshold of failure. As Apple Insider further explains:

In one embodiment, a “unitless” activity number may be assigned to the sensed motions by the processor, which in turn generates an “activity value” based on a predetermined maximum number. The unitless system can also be applied over time by taking samples at periodic intervals. For example, if a shoe is rated 500 hours of use, the alarm would sound after the system recorded that amount of activity.

Moreover, the sensor’s body bar sensing component indicates that physical metrics indirectly associated with a user’s shoe will also be accounted. It will be used to quantify the repeated movements of lifting weights, which could be processed and displayed on a device.

Ultimately, the system will be powered by a built-in battery or mechanical electric generation device, while an alarm can take the form of LED light. The patent application credits Curtis Vock, with Curtis and Perry Youngs as its inventors.

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