Is there anything more cliché than the adage about “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes?” Maybe not, but the Internet of Things has finally made it possible. Well, sort of: It’s more like “feeling what it’s like for someone else to walk a mile in their own shoes...which are actually sandals.”
Confused? Put your feet up and relax while we explain.
Stellvertreter Shoes (literally “Proxy Shoes”) is an interaction design project from a trio of students (Lukas Gächter, Olivia Stadler, Ramon Marc) at Switzerland’s Zurich University for the Arts. It comprises two pairs of shoes, which really are more like cork-soled sandals, each hooked up to a battery-powered Arduino Yún that straps to the wearer’s leg.
One person dons the “input” pair and walks around. Pressure sensors in the soles record their every step, and transmit the footfalls back to the “output” pair. This second pair of sandals has silicon pads embedded in the soles under the heel and toe of each foot. As data streams in, air pumps cause these pads to inflate and deflate in time with the walker’s footsteps.
Even though the two people may be far away, a connection is established that grounds both partners in their shared experience of every step they take. It seems like it would be an interesting, if not exactly comfortable, sensation—and it’s certainly a new take on the use of haptic feedback for technologically-mediated long-distance interactions.
Check out the video below to see Stellvertreter Shoes on the go.