Samsung Taking Steps Toward Potentially Launching Its Own Smart Shoe
One of these companies is Samsung, which makes many smart devices outside of the sports and health/fitness realm. While the company has focused on electronics like smart TV’s and appliances, including a connected refrigerator, a new patent reveals that it could be considering the introduction of its own line of running shoes, made “smart” but incorporating sensors that link up to a smartphone app for the consumer to track the data.
Last year, Samsung applied for two design patents for its potential smart running shoes to the KIPO (Korean Intellectual Property Office) and both have now been granted. Both models of the smart shoe appear to be made of leather and other synthetic materials. In the Model A, the shoe appears to have a pullback tab at the back that can be used to house and toggle the smart sensor. In the Model B shoe, the smart sensor has a plastic flap that opens a space which reveals the two metal connectors. While Samsung has revealed little additional information about this potential smart shoe, other than that derived from the patents, the company could be set to announce its smart running shoe at the upcoming CES (Consumer Electronics Show), which begins next Tuesday, January 8th in Las Vegas, NV.
This development represents a large step for not only Samsung but for the development generally of the smart apparel industry. Under Armour has recently announced its initiatives aimed at smart shoes, but Samsung’s move certainly raises the industry’s visibility. Samsung has previously developed smart clothing, though not for commercial use when it created a SmartSuit for training athletes at Winter Olympics. It did not create a similar product for mass consumer consumption. It also has worked on the Iofit shoes, that its spinoff launched through Kickstarter in 2017, which was geared to golfers.
There is no indication in the current patent filings, which appear to be focused on runners and training athletes, that the products are intended for only high performance or professional athletes. The patent is also thin on details regarding the information that will be collected and provided to the user from the shoes. It has been reported that the sensors inside the shoes can be activated by pulling on the tab in the back of the shoe or by utilizing hidden buttons on the back of the sneaker.
This quiet work by Samsung suggests that many companies, even those that aren't traditionally associated with producing shoes or apparel, are hoping to catch this wave of consumer interest in smart clothing. With the apparel still in its infancy, there are also a number of issues that need to be addressed related to the wider implementation of these products. First and foremost, if their products are successful, these companies could soon to be in possession of an enormous amount of consumer data which, if utilized in the wrong way, could have negative consequences. Over time it will also be important for these companies, through their users, to find the sweet spot in terms of what data is important to users so there isn’t an information overload or an excess of information that doesn’t provide much value.
The positives for connected shoes are compelling and if one can optimize workouts and reduce injuries through the benefits of added information then the products will immediately provide significant value. Having the potential of a guided trainer of sorts through the app, which provides users with personalized feedback from their own running or athletic data could also change the way people run and train in ways that are much more geared to their individual needs. It will also be of interest to monitor if Samsung chooses to work with a traditional shoemaker for these products. Perhaps some of these questions and more information about the company’s plans will be furthered revealed next week in Las Vegas.