Google has been showing off a talking shoe at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. The shoe monitors the wearer’s activity on Google’s playground at the event, and either gives encouragement or snarky remarks based on level of movement. Whether that sounds like something you’d want to buy or not is irrelevant, because Google has already said it’s not something they’re looking to put into production.
The shoe has a built-in Arduino board connected to a gyroscope, accelerometer, and pedometer. What does it do with this technology? It judges you of course. Lounging around while wearing your Google Talking Shoe? Expect snide comments delivered in the voice of a judgmental British man. If you’re really hustling your way around the obstacles at the playground Google has set up for SXSW, you can expect some words of encouragement.
What you can’t expect to do is buy a pair. They aren’t for sale, and Google says the shoes were not designed as a consumer product. The shoes came out of Google’s Art, Copy, & Code initiative which has the slogan “Advertising Re-Imagined.” Sure, Google could have printed up a bunch of posters or made some videos to show at other events to get attention for their company, but instead they made talking shoes and are giving people a chance to play with them in a heavily branded environment. That’s re-imagined advertising if I’ve ever seen it.
Despite the snarky British attitude, the technology in the shoe isn’t anything groundbreaking. The Arduino board and sensors link back to a computer, or a phone, via Bluetooth and process the information to determine the reply. It basically does what most smartphones are capable of already with fitness tracking apps, just presented in a fun way to get people talking about the cool new thing Google did.
Since the shoes won’t be hitting the market any time soon, or probably ever, if you want to get your hands on a pair to try them out, you’d better get to the Google Playground at SXSW before it’s gone, since we don’t know when or if these things will pop up again.
If you can’t make it to SXSW, the folks at The Verge managed to get their hands on a pair, and spoke with Kate Pacher from Google in this video. Check it out here:
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