According to Karim Oumnia, a longtime engineer for designer shoe companies like Baliston and Glagla Shoes, the footwear industry is old-fashioned and lacking in innovation.
“The first part of your body in connection with the ground is your feet, and your feet are supporting all your weight,” Oumnia explained to Business Insider.
We just aren’t taking good enough care of our feet, Oumnia contends. That’s why he spent the last 20 years of his life trying to improve the shoe industry and integrate new technologies that can significantly impact our day-to-day lives. He’s been a big innovator in sports footwear, having developed a lightweight, ventilated shoe that’s also machine washable.
Now he’s taking shoes to the next level with Digitsole, an interactive sole that connects to your smartphone to track your distance and calories, as well heat your feet.
Digitsole uses Bluetooth connectivity to send information from an app to the shoes’ soles, and vice versa. So you can receive information in terms of tracking steps and send information in terms of adjusting the heat levels.
“This innovation is a major innovation because it is interactive,” Oumnia said. “It’s not only collecting information, as many connected products are doing. We are modifying something. It’s a new generation of connected products.”
And in case the heat wasn’t enough of a draw for you, the soles are also reportedly better for your feet. It has a shock heel system with cushions that lessen the impact when your heel hits the ground, as well as support for your arch.
The other benefit of using Digitsole is that it can provide a more accurate tracking compared to other wearables, which typically take the form of wristbands and watches. Those devices tend to detect arm movement or general body movement to gauge how active a person is, but Digitsole can literally track each step, giving a more accurate look at activity.
“If you are Italian or Mediterranean and you talk with your hands, you will make a lot of steps with your wristband,” Oumnia said. “The real tracking can be done through your feet and not through your arm, so the tracking we are using today is not really precise. It’s not bad, but what we’re using on the insole is much more efficient.”
Digitsole will last about 7 to 8 hours when used at its highest temperature the whole time, but Oumnia claims it can last for a couple of days if you use it “normally.” Either way, you can easily recharge the sole with a USB cable. And the Digitsole team is actively working to improve the battery life.
Digitsole launched a Kickstarter campaign Tuesday morning to raise money with a goal of $US40,000. But according to Oumnia, the campaign is just as much for marketing as it is for fundraising. It lets him explain his product and share it with a large audience.
A Kickstarter pledge of at least $US99 will get you one pair of Digitsole soles, which are expected to ship by the end of November.
Once the Kickstarter campaign is over, Oumnia is certain he will be contacted by retailers looking to sell his product in their store. He expects Digitsole will be ready for mass production in 2015.
“We have no doubt that we will be able to get to this goal,” Oumnia said. “Every time I show this to friends and people around us they are very surprised that we can just heat by clicking on the smartphone.”
Update: Digitsole has reached its funding goal on Kickstarter and will begin production to start shipping in December.