These smart shoes connect to Google Maps

LAUNCHPAD: Indian startup Ducere Technologies' Lechal shoes vibrate when you need to change direction.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 06 Oct 2014

Credit: Ducere Technologies

We are fast approaching ‘peak smart’, what with smartphones, smartwatches, and now, thanks to an Indian start up, smart shoes.

Ducere Technologies’ Lechal shoes and insoles connect to Google Maps on your smartphone via Bluetooth and the left or right one will vibrate when you need to go in that direction. No more bumping into people as you stare at your screen, although any more subtle guidance doesn’t seem to have been factored in (how would they cope with Swindon’s magic roundabout?).

The ‘interactive haptic footwear’ (a mealy-mouthed way to say shoes that use tactile technology), which can be preordered before they go on sale in September for around $100 (£59), can also count steps and calories, send destination recommendations to your phone and buzz you if your phone has left your side.

They were initially designed by two Indian engineers, who had studied at MIT and the University of Michigan, as an alternative to the cane for the blind (Lechal means 'take me along' in Hindi). The company, founded in 2011 and based in Secunderabad in the new Indian state of Telengana, now employs 50 people.

‘The shoes are a natural extension of the human body,’ Ducere co-founder and chief exec Krispian Lawrence told the Wall Street Journal. ‘You will leave your house without your watch or wristband, but you will never leave your house without your shoes.’

While thought has clearly gone into the shoe designs, the company’s claim ‘it feels as good as it looks’ is a tad optimistic – bright red slip-ons aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. And if more care is taken over the way wearable tech looks (the black metal monobrow that is Google Glass is a fine case in point), the industry could really explode. The market is on course to be worth $3bn globally by 2018, but could reach triple that if techies collaborate more with the fashion world, according to Beecham Research.

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