Smart Shoes!

Smart toasters, fridges and heating for the smart, connected, household, to help us live easier lives. Biomedical devices to monitor our health, check our pulse, heart rate and sleep patterns, to help us live better and longer. At the Mobile World Congress 2018, IoT specialist, Sierra Wireless, took this a step further, introducing us to the concept of the smart shoe.

Carrying a smart SIM card and wireless module, Sierra has invented a safety boot that can communicate with other connected footwear. The concept isn’t as silly as it first sounds. According to the United Nations, a worker dies from a work-related accident or disease every 15 seconds. And many more face long-term effects from accidents that impact their health.

Sierra’s invention allows wearers to exchange messages with other workers. So, when working on a site, people can exchange safety messages and alerts, saying, for example, ‘there’s something wrong where I am or something’s unsafe.’ 

Communication works either by moving the foot or toes in a particular way, or by pressing a button on the side of the shoe. When receiving a message, the shoe will vibrate and emit an 80-decibel alarm, in case the person is working in a loud environment.

To communicate, workers will have to learn a simple type of Morse Code. Twitching the toes in a particular way will signal that the wearer is in trouble. There are also different movements for levels of alert. So, one tap for a red alert, another for a less-critical alert. The position of those sending the signal can also be viewed on mobile GPS devices, making it easy to locate the worker.

In short, they improve the lines of communication between workers, making it a safer working environment. The boot is primarily designed for the utilities industry, where workers are often deployed over large areas. Whereas safety is the primary concern, the boot can also save thousands on the cost of insurance, which often carry hefty premiums in terms of the health and safety of workers.