Saturday, March 9, 2013

Google shows off hacked speaking shoe at SXSW, promises it's not getting into the footwear business

All the hype of Google's presence at this year's SXSW has, not surprisingly, largely revolved around the company's Glass project, but much to our surprise, the software giant used the show to take the wraps off yet another wearable. We spoke to a rep who kicked off the conversation with the express disclaimer that "Google is not getting into the shoe business," so you can tamp down those expectations right now. Of course, the company is still firmly in the business of creating cool projects for the purposes of promoting creativity and supporting the developer community and ethos that are the driving forces behind its Art, Copy & Code project.

Art, Copy, Code was the centerpiece of Google's Playground, set up in a space directly across the street from the Austin Convention Center. There's a sports theme throughout, with a basket court on one side and an obstacle course on the other. The company was letting visitors try out its new talking shoe concept, with a custom made microcontroller (along with assorted Sparkfun pieces) on the tongue of a pair of Adidas. Above that is a circular speaker that provides feedback based on your movement (detected my internal accelerometers and gyroscopes, along with pressure sensors in the sole). The shoe will then give you aural feedback, based on how you're moving.

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