This Smart Shoe Cuts Off Internet Access So You Can Look At Your Friends And Not A Screen
If you are in need of a little digital detox, a new wearable promises that it will take your eyes off the screen — at least for the appointed time. The footwear brand Anatomic & Co has developed in conjunction with computer scientists at University College of London (UCL) a smart shoe that cuts off internet access, and does so stylishly. The “In Good Company” shoe is a black leather brogue with a bright blue rubber sole. A bluetooth transmitter embedded in the sole connects to an app that allows the wearer to set preferences on their smart phone for internet access and notifications.
While you can always turn off distracting Facebook or Instagram notifications individually, the In Good Company app pledges to streamline the process. It aggregates your phone's apps, and allows you to set a timer for silencing notifications (so... one app to rule them all?). You can also whitelist certain important contacts whose messages you want to receive during your tech blackout. Once you personalize your preferences and strap on your footwear, you are finally free to socialize with friends and family — who are probably really worried about you because you need a special shoe to keep you from checking your phone every five seconds.
Alastair Moore, deputy director of UCL believes that this "well-being wearable" is a perfect cross-section of mindfulness and technology, PSFK reports, and that this product is only the beginning of what will become a trend. “The shoe is a physical manifestation of our mission — to make the world a more sociable place to live, by making the world’s most sociable shoes,” says Moema Pimentel, the head designer and managing director for Anatomic & Co. Of course, if you really want to cut yourself off from the technology that is damaging your relationships, perhaps having a bluetooth in your shoe seems a bit backwards.
We have seen this technology before in other bluetooth-enabled smart shoes. However, their purposes are more physical health-oriented, with products that coach the shoe wearer how to stand better, or that allow the wearer to warm their feet, checks calories burned, and monitors steps through an app. The In Good Company connective shoes control the wearers phone, and have nothing to do with monitoring balance or step count.
Duane Holland, founder of DH READY, the consultancy that came up with the concept, believes these shoes will make a "positive human and societal impact." He states that the shoe signify that as we become more and more "digitally connected" we need to take steps towards "digital empathy."
The wingtips will be available in a limited run through a Kickstarter this summer. Check out their video to see if these shoes may be a good fit for your personal style.
Yes, technology addiction can take over a person's life and damage relationships with other real breathing humans, but I wonder if it has truly escalated to the point where we need to control our urges through our shoes? Who knows — maybe one day soon all our clothing will be smart products, digitally tracking some aspect of our life?
And that's when I disappear off the grid.