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Apple's "smart shoes" notify users when they need replacing  

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
An interesting Apple patent application discovered on Thursday describes a sensor and alarm system that can be embedded into footwear, granting users a more empirical method on which to rely when deciding to replace worn-out shoes.

Shoe
Apple's worn-out shoe alert system. | Source: USPTO


First filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in July 2012, Apple's application for a "Shoe wear-out sensor, body-bar sensing system, unitless activity assessment and associated methods" looks to make "smart shoes" that can alert owners when they need replacing.

As Apple describes it, shoes not only provide comfort and protection, but also stability for feet during physical activities such as sports or training. Over time and continued use, a shoe's support decreases, thereby reducing the effectiveness of its protection. There comes a point when a "critical wear level" is reached where a shoe may not provide enough support and can in some cases actually cause foot damage. Because this level of wear may not be apparent to the user, a sensor and alarm system could be a solution to preventing injury.

System
Illustration of system with external display.


The patent basically involves three main components: a detector for sensing when the shoe wears out; a processor to measure the detector's data; and an alarm for alerting the user when a shoe is no longer stable. Sensors can be of any type, including accelerometers, pressure sensors and piezoelectric flexing sensors, among others. Data is processed through an algorithm, which can be set according to a shoe manufacturer's specifications, that determines at what point a shoe is at the threshold of failure.

In one embodiment, a "unitless" activity number may be assigned to the sensed motions by the processor, which in turn generates an "activity value" based on a predetermined maximum number. The unitless system can also be applied over time by taking samples at periodic intervals. For example, if a shoe is rated for 500 hours of use, the alarm would sound after the system recorded that amount of activity.

Other physical metrics not directly associated with one's shoes are also accounted for as another embodiment involves a body bar sensing component that is used to quantify the repeated movements of lifting weights. These repetitions can be processed and ultimately represented graphically on a display device.

Sensor
Illustration of body bar sensing detector with bar weight.


Powering the system is either a built-in battery or a mechanical electric generation device, while the alarm can take the form of an LED light, speaker or display. Also incorporated in some embodiments is a wireless interface, suggesting compatibility with portable devices like the iPhone or iPad.

Apple envisions the processor, alarm and other necessary electronics to reside in a shoe's heel or any other location where there is ample room for the circuitry. The sensor, or sensors, can be placed in the outsole, heel and other various locations ripe for wear-out detection.

Package
Complex system with periodic sampling processor.


While an Apple-branded pair of basketball shoes may be far off, similar technology is already being used by major brands like Nike to track athletes' performance.

The patent application credits Curtis A. Vock; Curtis and Perry Youngs as its inventors.
post #2 of 63

Sounds like a pisstake. 

post #3 of 63

More bullshit from Apple.
 

post #4 of 63
I didn't realise it was 1 April!
post #5 of 63

A clever approach to address the growth expectations of the analysts. People only use one phone, but most have two feet. Boom.

post #6 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesmcd View Post

Sounds like a pisstake. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by marvfox View Post

More bullshit from Apple.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SCProfessor View Post

If you can't go by looks and feel of when your shoes are worn out, you are a Neanderthal and don't need shoes anyway.

As I expected, the uninformed Apple haters are out in force.

You can't always tell when a shoe is worn out from simply looking at it. A shoe can lose its support and still look OK from the outside. For most people, that's not an issue, but it could be a serious issue for some people.

That said, I really doubt if it's a big enough market to justify development.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
post #7 of 63
Great, more e-waste. I don't see the value outside of prescription shoes.
post #8 of 63

It sounds like one of those odd "outside-their-market" Google projects rather than something Apple would spend any time, effort, or money on. Not exactly in tune with Apple's "laser focus".


Edited by Gatorguy - 1/24/13 at 5:02am
melior diabolus quem scies
melior diabolus quem scies
post #9 of 63

My feet and wallet tell me when I need to replace my shoes. Why is this necessary????

 

Whats next, sensors built in to tell me when I need to wash my clothes or take a shower?

post #10 of 63

Probably just intended as another weapon for Steve's patent war chest in case Nike/Gucci/Ugg/etc ever pissed him off and he decided to go thermonuclear on them...

post #11 of 63

Isn't today International Belly Laugh Day?

post #12 of 63

Apple is acting like IBM, making new inventions but most of these inventions never going to be release as a product. It is just to create more patents to their portfolio.

post #13 of 63

Are shoe shops now suddenly filling with Samsung employees?

post #14 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by marvfox View Post

More bullshit from Apple.
 

Speaking of which, shoes that warn you when you're about to step in poop would be good.

post #15 of 63

using Apple Maps?
 

post #16 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

It sounds like one of those odd "outside-their-market" Google projects rather than something Apple would spend any time, effort, or money on. Not exactly in tune with Apple's "laser focus".

Not totally without precedence: Nike+

It might not even need extra hardware.
post #17 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


Not totally without precedence: Nike+

It might not even need extra hardware.

Thanks, I had forgotten about that one.

melior diabolus quem scies
melior diabolus quem scies
post #18 of 63
I think the concept is great. How about for my tooth brush or a pacemaker battery or any other device that needs to be replaced when worn out!
post #19 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by macxpress View Post

My feet and wallet tell me when I need to replace my shoes. Why is this necessary????

 

Whats next, sensors built in to tell me when I need to wash my clothes or take a shower?

 

Probably more helpful than the shoes for some!

 

Back to the shoes, I can see when a pro athlete (or wannabe) might find these helpful and it doesn't seem like too much of stretch to extend the Nike+ functionality to include this data. I would also like to have accelerometers to give me an idea of the relative impact of some excersises to avoid unnecessary fatigue on the skeleton (e.g., or for the morbidly obese). These things being said it may be too much of a niche today but prices go down and in a very few years people might be willing to pay the premium (e.g., look at $200 or more for Air Jordans and they are just a style thing -- but apparently they make enough of those to justify the expense of a smaller run than some of their less expensive shoes).

post #20 of 63
post #21 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post




As I expected, the uninformed Apple haters are out in force.

You can't always tell when a shoe is worn out from simply looking at it. A shoe can lose its support and still look OK from the outside. For most people, that's not an issue, but it could be a serious issue for some people.

That said, I really doubt if it's a big enough market to justify development.

I hope you are being funny. 

 

They should have pants with sensors that alert you when your pants are too damn short. There are people who genuinly have no idea and wear their pants too short. They look stupid, are never taken seriously by others and in a nutshell - their ignorance could seriously curtail their future prospects. Its a small market, admittedly, but how do you tell a guy he looks like a joke because his pants are too short without hurting the fella?

 

Seriously. /

post #22 of 63
If I read this correctly I would be embarrassed to have my corporate name attached to this nonsense. This may be the beginning of the end as there are no new ideas. Next Apple will develop an ass sensor designed for the analysis of flatulent discharges. On second thought, that may not be such a bad idea.
post #23 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbtinc View Post

If I read this correctly I would be embarrassed to have my corporate name attached to this nonsense. This may be the beginning of the end as there are no new ideas. Next Apple will develop an ass sensor designed for the analysis of flatulent discharges. On second thought, that may not be such a bad idea.

I think you really don't understand what Apple is doing, they are like IBM, making more and more patents to their portfolio but never creating products from it. They create these patents just in case they need to license these in one point in the future.

post #24 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

I would also like to have accelerometers to give me an idea of the relative impact of some excersises to avoid unnecessary fatigue on the skeleton (e.g., or for the morbidly obese). 

Weighing you seems like an obvious thing your shoes could do (by the amount of compression of the sole). It could bluetooth your weight to your dieting app on your phone.

post #25 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

You can't always tell when a shoe is worn out from simply looking at it. A shoe can lose its support and still look OK from the outside. For most people, that's not an issue, but it could be a serious issue for some people.

That certainly is true. I have 'discovered' how great jogging is. But after showing my jogging shoes to a girlfriend who runs a lot I was told to get new ones immediately, simply because they were 6 years old. As I've hardly worn them they looked new, but were actually very bad for my knees because they didn't have any air in them left.
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post #26 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post


That certainly is true. I have 'discovered' how great jogging is. But after showing my jogging shoes to a girlfriend who runs a lot I was told to get new ones immediately, simply because they were 6 years old. As I've hardly worn them they looked new, but were actually very bad for my knees because they didn't have any air in them left.

There is a movement of sorts called 'barefoot running' that would disagree with your girlfriend. Its an interesting idea though I am sure Nike et all think its rubbish. 

post #27 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

There is a movement of sorts called 'barefoot running' that would disagree with your girlfriend. Its an interesting idea though I am sure Nike et all think its rubbish. 

I saw Patrick Makau setting a new PR video 'the other day'. I'd love to be able to that myself! And yeah, lol at Nike, what can they do? Sell a track?

edit: there's a market for everything I guess

Edited by PhilBoogie - 1/24/13 at 7:19am
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post #28 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post




As I expected, the uninformed Apple haters are out in force.

You can't always tell when a shoe is worn out from simply looking at it. A shoe can lose its support and still look OK from the outside. For most people, that's not an issue, but it could be a serious issue for some people.

That said, I really doubt if it's a big enough market to justify development.


Are you kidding me?

 

This is huge.

 

Most people have one phone. But almost everyone (except for the truly indigent) have multiple pairs of shoes. Heck, at any given time, the number of shoes on a person outnumbers the number of phones by 2 to 1. The potential market is ginormous. Lest we forget, this also smacks of a collaboration with Nike. I expect Apple Inc. to become Apple Shoes Inc. in 5 years.

post #29 of 63
This is probably the dumbest Apple patent I've ever seen.
post #30 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

.

That said, I really doubt if it's a big enough market to justify development.

If it can also measure exercise etc then you have all the Up/Fuelband junkies.

Tht said Apple won't be the ones doing it. They will license this off to Nike etc with APIs for iPhone apps and such.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

post #31 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by maclancer View Post

I think you really don't understand what Apple is doing, they are like IBM, making more and more patents to their portfolio but never creating products from it. They create these patents just in case they need to license these in one point in the future.

It's not just Apple and IBM. Every company does this. But every company isn't the best hit fodder put there so we don't hear about it ad nauseum, same with lawsuits.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

post #32 of 63

You've overlooked Apple's recent patent for the "ITP"alert system.

 

They recognized the trauma that results from mid-stool resource depletion:

I.E. you're taking a dump and realize you're lacking sufficient TP.

 

Apple is looking to embed a bluetooth link to your OS6 devices that will alert you pre-sitdown that you'd better check your supplies.

 

Incredible and amazing!

post #33 of 63
Maybe this is part of a elaborate plan to fool Samsung. Apple, as well as all of us with a shred of common sense, know Samsung's business ethics very well. They are hoping that Samsung takes the bait, and in a couple weeks release the Samsung Galaxy Sneakers so we can all have a good laugh at them.
That is the only explanation I have for this because no way anyone at Apple was that serious about this idea to file for a patent.
post #34 of 63
Apple files tons of patents. On many occasions co. will file patents under the name(s) of the inventor(s) or engineer(s). Same here.
post #35 of 63

- Some disciplines require a minimal publishing output from its scientists.

 

- Many companies require a certain amount of training each year.

 

- Looks like Apple has a minimum patent application rule for all employees...

 

"Hey Curtis!  Perry!  You guys haven't filed a patent in five years.  Do something quick, or your yearly eval is going to be bad."

 

Curtis looks over at Perry, who is picking at the faded rubber sole of his tennis shoes, and a light goes on above his head.

 

"Perry, I know what we're going to do today!"

post #36 of 63
Here are 9 Apple patent filings just from Jan 17. Take a couple hours and read the abstracts. Quite interesting.

http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2013/01/patent-lint-the-other-apple-patents-that-might-interest-you.html#more
post #37 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Great, more e-waste. I don't see the value outside of prescription shoes.

Runners typically get of shoes after a time regardless if they are worn out or not. The point is it's impossible to tell unless after you attempt to perform in them. Having sensors in your apparel is the next the logical step and shoes, watches, and glasses appear to be the first up on that front.

If you get enough sensors built into shoes, not just one simple accelerometer fob placed in or on one shoe, you then open up an entirely new world of analysis. it could tell your stride, your foot falls, width between each foot, if you have under-, over-, or neutral pronation, and could even figure out other aspects of your results cheaply based on that data. I'm sure you've seen professional athletes in some lab on a treadmill hooked up to sensors with camera on them and guys in white coats monitoring them. This could also the rest of us to get the similar, or even better, info.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

post #38 of 63

Cant you see, your shoe is worn out.  Go buy another pair.

An Apple man since 1977
An Apple man since 1977
post #39 of 63
What about 'smart porn', notifies you when you're done.
post #40 of 63
Who knows... Some of these proto-oddities eventually lead to meaningful applications.
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