Shoes that put themselves on your feet just the thin end of the wedge

Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Nike have come up with a new pair of trainers that in essence put themselves onto your feet.

This ingenious engineering feat for feet is accomplished by means of a tiny internal treadmill that rolls on the soles to allow your foot slip seamlessly into your shoe.

Thus, in one fell swoop, the end of the shoehorn and the justification for a million teenagers who cannot be bothered to open their laces.

Nike are awaiting a US patent for what they are calling their ‘rotatable conveyor element’ but already you know that the world of shoes will turn on his heel forever.

In its patent application, Nike pointed out that, as a rule ‘overcoming the friction between foot and footwear’ has up to now involved gripping the shoe with one’s hands before ‘pulling the footwear over the foot and pushing the foot into the footwear’.

Around the same time as this invention, Google filed its patent for a ‘smart nappy’ – one that provides an app to spare parents the trauma of having to sniff their little darlings’ bottoms to see if they’ve done any business.

Verily Life Sciences, a research division of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, envisages nappies that have conductive and sensing elements embedded in the absorbent areas.

Changes in conductivity would flag an ‘event’, while an algorithm would identify whether urine or solids were involved.

The sensors in the disposable, absorbent nappy would attach to a reusable control module, housing a power source and transmitter to relay status updates to a parent or carer’s phone via Bluetooth or wifi.

So, the bell tolls for two things we thought we’d always have to look after ourselves – putting on our own shoes and smelling our babies’ nappies.

Then again, putting on your shoes can become more of a challenge with the passage of time – particularly when you have to cope with a middle-aged spread – but this is the first time that it has been elevated to a recognisable science.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.