The development of the wireless sensing of the wearable computing grows intrust to many. The Responsive Environments Group of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory has developed a human/computer interface for the foot. It is a low-powered sensor card that measures over 16 continuous quantities and transmit them wirelessly to a base station, updating variables at 50 hertz.
They have given a pair of these devices to athletes and dancers, measuring continuous pressure at three points near the toe, dynamic pressure at the heel and bidirectional bend at the sole. Why would someone want to use these shoes you may ask? The music world is the answer to that question. Now you don't have to carry or mount the instrument onto you. All you have to do is replace the instrument with sensors. The dancer, can select a looped music sample to start playing by staying relatively stable for several seconds. There are five samples of different musical excerpts in all (30-second loops, ranging from Cajun music to classical music), and these are selected by the region and range at which the trigger occurred. Using the shoe is easier than the other types of wearable interfaces. You just put on the shoes and flip their power button on. There are no cords running up and down the body or connecting anywhere. You just put on the shoes and go about your normal day.
Run or walk, dance or play, anything you do, you can listen to music. "Our current demonstrations allow dancers and athletes to directly produce musical streams from their performances" - says project director Joe Paradiso - "Future work will explore the identification of gait characteristics from the sensor data, useful not only for interactive performance, but also for digital athletic coaching, podiatric therapy, and other aspects of running and walking".
Run The Planet thanks Wendy Launius for the permission to reprint the article "Interactive shoes" based on the information on the "Expressive Footware" provided by Dr. Joseph A. Paradiso and his Responsive Environments Projects team. Technical details of this and other projects are published online at the address (www.media.mit.edu/resenv/projects.html). Text copyright © 2002 by Run The Planet. Image copyright © 2002 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.