'Smart Shoe' Adapts To You

Clear housing in the arch of he latest Adidas shoe, called "1", holds a microprocessor built around a motor unit as shown here in Portland, Ore., Thursday, May 6, 2004, during its' introduction at the company's U.S. headquarters. The shoe is equipped with a microprocessor capable of making five million calculations per second to adjust heel cushioning. AP

Adidas says it has created the world's first "smart shoe" by mating it with a computer chip that adapts its cushioning level to a runner's size and stride.

The Adidas 1 is the product of a three-year secret project the German company developed at its U.S. headquarters in Portland, Ore.

On Thursday, Adidas opened its research lab to reporters from around the world for a first peek at a shoe the company claims will revolutionize distance running and training.

"This is the first intelligent shoe ever," said Erich Stamminger, global marketing director for Adidas. "It senses, understands and adapts."

After thousands of hours of testing, Adidas is confident the computerized shoe will endure the wear-and-tear of running in almost any condition — from hard pavement to dirt trails, and dry streets to wet beaches.

The microprocessor is located in the arch of the shoe, and drives a tiny screw and cable system that adjusts the heel cushion depending on the signals sent back by an electric sensor coupled to a magnet.

It is powered by a battery that conserves power by adjusting the shoe while it is in the air during a runner's stride, avoiding resistance from the ground.

The entire assembly weighs no more than 40 grams — just 10 percent of the 400-gram total weight of the shoe, to keep it light enough for distance runners.

But the $250 price tag is likely to make it a luxury item when it first goes on sale in December, said Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.

"It's something that doesn't necessarily seem to have massive market appeal, but from the company standpoint speaks volumes about its technology capabilities," Swangard said.


  • John Esterbrook

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