Talking Shoes On Display AT SXSW
March 11, 2013

Google Unveils Prototype Pair Of Talking Shoes At SXSW

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Google´s research and development team is apparently working on a new piece of wearable computer technology to complement Google Glass and compete with Apple´s rumored iWatch — a pair of talking shoes.

According to Gregory Ferenstein of TechCrunch, the shoes — which were demonstrated by the Mountain View, California-based company this weekend at the 2013 South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) event in Austin, Texas — are currently in the concept stage and were part of a new arts project designed “to breathe a social, life-like experience into everyday objects.”

The device, Ferenstein explains, tends to alternate between providing words of encouragement for a job well done and trash-talking when a person is lounging around instead of exercising. While he admitted that it might seem a bit odd attempting to impress a virtual personal trainer, the reporter said that after he actually gave the shoes a test run, he found himself attempting to garner positive feedback from the virtual fitness coach.

While´s Damon Poeter expressed disappointment that the talking shoe “doesn't issue warnings to its wearer to avoid dog poop and other roadside hazards” — at least not in its current state — he did point out that Google´s promotional video featuring the footwear appears to suggest that the motivational messages will also appear on a user´s Google+ page.

“It´s very much a prototype design, with a massive conical speaker slapped onto the shoe´s tongue, and a host of about 250 phrases that the small computer spits out at you, depending on differing factors, including whether you´re stationary, walking, running or just ambling along,” explained AllThingsD author Mike Isaac.

“An accelerometer, gyroscope and pressure sensors are embedded within the shoe itself, so it´s constantly measuring how much activity you´re exerting,” he added. "Let´s be clear: Siri for shoes, it ain´t. It literally has a slab of chip strapped to the laces — not exactly as fashionable as the Adidas of yore. And again, it´s not going to be doing much except say one of those randomized, prerecorded phrases contingent on how much you´re moving around. Fun? Perhaps. Practical? Not so much.”

Currently, the device is reportedly just a piece of concept apparel created for Google´s “Art, Copy & Code” initiative and was designed to experiment with advertising. The shoes were created thanks to a grant from interactive art agency and Google partner YesYesNo, Ferenstein said — but then, as he also points out, “Google Glass was just a concept at one point, too.”