WEARABLES: Smart sneakers

Sat, 4 Dec 1999 17:02:08 EST

A minor milestone:

>From Newsreal,

http://pb1-1.newsreal.com/osform/NewsService?osform_template=pages/newsrealS tory&ID=newsreal&path=News/Category.NRdb@2@21&storypath=News/Story_1999_12_0 1.NRdb@2@22@3@102
New `smart sneaker' chip measures up kids Source: Boston Herald
Publication date: Nov 30, 1999

The latest sneaker technology from [Reebok International Ltd.] may not make kids run faster, or jump higher.
But it will let them measure their performance.

Reebok's new Traxtar "smart shoes" for kids hit the shelves this Saturday. The $55 and $65 sneakers use a computer chip and a motion sensor - along with electronic beeps and flashing lights - to measure a child's sprinting and jumping ability.

While video game designers use light and sound displays to keep kids on the couch as long as possible, Traxtar is designed to inspire kids to get off the couch, said Matt Feiner, a product director for the Stoughton shoe maker. The company says it will ship between 25,000 and 50,000 pairs during the holiday season, with more next year.

A motion sensor - the same kind of accelerometer used in airbags - along with a microprocessor unit are enclosed in an oval module and attached to the left tongue of the Traxtar shoe.

A youngster can test sprinting, long jumping or high jumping ability, with accelerometer results given in scores that can be translated to standard measurements using cards that come with the shoes.

Reebok developed the shoes with FitSense Technology of Wellesley, which has supplied motion and temperature sensors used by Boston Marathoners.

FitSense also developed a sensor which was swallowed by John Glenn to monitor his body temperature as he orbited earth during his Space Shuttle mission.

John Horan with industry newsletter Sporting Goods Intelligence says it's the first so-called smart technology to be incorporated into shoes, although it may not be the last.

If Traxtar is a hit with kids, other sneaker makers are sure to offer their own versions, he said. Feiner said there are "tremendous future applications" for Reebok's adult shoes.

Reebok isn't the only shoemaker trying to create excitement in an industry that has been flat.

[Converse Inc.] of North Reading recently launched shoes with helium cushioning. [Nike Inc.]'s Web site allows customers to personalize shoes, even by having their name stiched on them.

Last month Reebok launched a Traxtar.com web site, with space-age graphics, games and information aimed at promoting the shoes and attracting kids.

Graphic: Reebok jumpstarts sales

Graphic: Reebok jumpstarts sales (Art/text graphic discussing the features of Reebok's new Traxtar shoe and a line graph depicting Reebok's stock performance in 1999) Source: Traxtar.com and Herald research. STAFF GRAPHIC BY LEE ANN GUN

Publication date: Nov 30, 1999
1999, NewsReal, Inc.