Mountain View, CA — Google plans to introduce a new generation of smart shoes, which feature upward-pointing cameras at the company’s “GoogleIO” conference which opened May 28th in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. The shoes, which are an upgraded version of the heavily modified Adidas Google introduced at South by Southwest in March of this year, include an ultra-high-definition, upward-pointing camera on each shoe.
The search giant, which makes most of its revenue from advertising, said the cameras were added based on feedback from mostly male beta testers and early adopters.
“While we felt the shoe speakers would really allow the wearer to express himself or herself while on the move, our customers told us that most of their time is actually spent motionless, preferably talking to someone attractive in a park, shopping mall, parking garage, or other location. This allows us to expand into whole new areas, and eliminated the need for expensive optical stabilization,” explained Google Product Manager Malvista Inflagrante. “That leaves room for a zoom feature, which our customers are very excited about. We also think we can fully accommodate their request for an infrared feature.”
The infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum is just beyond red light, and is normally invisible to human vision. However it normally is visible to computer vision systems, where it is usually filtered out. It is useful for seeing how hot something is.
This is not the advertising giant’s first foray into the “smart wearables” marketâ€”clothing and other items worn by the user that contain sophisticated, powerful computers and sensors that are connected to other smart devices, such as mobile phones, and through them, to the internet. Previously, the company has experimented with smart eyewear, called Google Glass, and smart watches that run the Android operating system also found in many smartphones.
While the constant presence of a high-definition camera able to take photographs or movies of anything at which a Google Glass wearer was looking caused something of a stir, Inflagrante sees no such controversy arising with the company’s new smart shoes.
“Users will be able to capture videos of beautiful cloud formations, the underside of trees, cats and other animals that come rather close… things they might miss while concentrating on their run, but can enjoy seeing later. What possible controversy could there be?” Inflagrante asked chuckling. “We think we’ve hit a hole in one on this one.”
However, the marketing and branding still needs work. While many of the company’s products have succeeded despite obscure, quirky, or downright oddball names such as “Google” and “Android”, others, such as “Project Loon” could benefit from a smart branding boost. With footwear being such a competitive, fashion sensitive market, the product name doesn’t seem likely to roll off the tongue of fashionistas. The name of the product? “Shoogles,” shared Inflagrante, beaming. “Google Shoogles. Straight from your feet to the cloud(TM).”