Jan. 7 - Students in Taiwan have developed sensors that attach to shoes - converting movement into digital information that can be sent wirelessly to a handheld device. The invention opens the doors to new exercise applications and mobile dance games. Sharon Reich reports.
These ... are "Smart Shoes." They are equipped with a special set of motion sensors that use blue tooth to send information to your iPad - turning it into an arcade game instantly. Peter Ju is part of the team of students at Cheng Kung University that designed the shoe. He says they set out to add another dimension to the video game applications for mobile devices. SOUNDBITE: PETER JU , PETER JU, ENGINEERING STUDENT, NATIONAL CHENG KUNG UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "...We thought of the possibility of adding body movements into games. So we placed these sensors on feet, giving software developers a new direction to work towards." So how does it all work? Ju says its simple. Shoe pads with sensors are placed at the bottom and on the sides of the shoe to detect pressure and acceleration. The sensors then send motion information back to a mobile device wirelessly. When switched to a different mode, the shoe becomes your work out trainer, calculating the amount of calories a person consumes when exercising. But programming motion analysis is tough stuff - Ju says the team is still trying to improve the sensor's accuracy and speed. SOUNDBITE: PETER JU , PETER JU, ENGINEERING STUDENT, NATIONAL CHENG KUNG UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "The algorithm uses the standard deviation to calculate the movement, and once the movement value exceeds a certain range, then it can be recognized as a movement. When a movement is completed then we can analyse the direction of the movement. This was the biggest breakthrough." The team hope their smart shoes will be a hit. They wouldn't mind dancing all the way to the bank.