Wearable technology continues to get weirder with these GPS-guided "vibrotactile" sneakers.

Folks who bemoan society's increasing dependence on machines, get ready to throw your flip phones against the wall. Somebody has built a pair of sneakers that eliminate the need for any kind of map, as they nudge you toward a destination by gently tickling your toes.

Dhairya Dand's "SuperShoes" are not technically shoes but squishy, foldable insoles that fit into many kinds of footwear. Embedded in their jellylike flesh are microcontrollers, Bluetooth hardware, and "vibrotactile ticklers," which sound like something you might buy in a truck-stop bathroom but in fact are unique navigational devices. Enter where you want to go on your smartphone, and by buzzing either the left foot or right foot they'll eventually get you there. Additionally, you can enter likes and dislikes into software called "Shoe Central," and the intelligent footwear will guide you toward a favorite Indian restaurant, say, or away from a personal enemy. If they tickle constantly, that means you're near the site of an errand that's on your calendar.

Though this seems like a complicated replacement for Google maps – or to take it back a few years, a hand-drawn map and a functioning brain – Dand asserts that his invention is meant to actually disengage us from technology. "We are so much into our screens that we forget to enjoy the real world," his promo video states. "SuperShoes" allow the wearer to put down their mobile device and "immerse in the beauty of reality." And as noted over at Fashioning Tech, the wired insoles include a feature that might open you up to new experiences: 

The novel feature of the SuperShoes is that it can instill “acts of random serendipity” – suggest a different route to work in the morning or suggest a scenic walk for mediation, adding a level of discovery and exploration to one of the best forms of exercise – walking.

Have a look at the possible future of walking:

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Passengers line up for a bullet train at a platform in Tokyo Station.
    Transportation

    The Amazing Psychology of Japanese Train Stations

    The nation’s famed mastery of rail travel has been aided by some subtle behavioral tricks.

  2. Transportation

    Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S.

    The widespread failure of American mass transit is usually blamed on cheap gas and suburban sprawl. But the full story of why other countries succeed is more complicated.

  3. Life

    How Manhattan Became a Rich Ghost Town

    New York’s empty storefronts are a dark omen for the future of cities.

  4. North Korean soldiers carry the Korean People's Army flag as they walk past residential buildings along Ryomyong Street in Pyongyang.
    Design

    What's Behind North Korea’s Building Boom?

    Kim Jong-un is transforming Pyongyang, the Hermit State’s capital city, into a high-rise-filled “socialist fairyland.”

  5. vacant store fronts in mining town in Arizona
    Equity

    America’s Worsening Geographic Inequality

    The economic gap between have and have-not places continues to widen.