Dominic Wilcox has created a fully functional prototype pair of shoes that will guide you home no matter where you are in the world.
Commissioned by the Global Footprint project in Northamptonshire, a place famous for shoe making, to create some shoes, Dominic decided to make a pair of shoes that can navigate you to anywhere you wish to travel to, inspired by the Wizard of Oz and how Dorothy could click her shoes together to go home.
After uploading your required destination to the shoes via a piece of custom made mapping software and a USB cable, the GPS, which is embedded in the heal, is activated by a heal click. It then communicates to the wearer via a ring of LED lights to point in the required direction. The shoe with the GPS wirelessly communicates with the right shoe that has a progress bar of lights to show how close you are to the destination.
In order to create the fully functioning prototype shoes Wilcox worked with interactive arts and technology expert Becky Stewart and local Northampton shoe maker Stamp Shoes to create the bespoke leather shoes. You can watch how Dominic leads you through the process in full detail below the video.
Above: “The progress bar starts with one red light at the beginning of the journey and ends on the green light when you arrive. The correct direction to walk is shown by the illumination of one of the LED’s on the circle”
A little piece of software was created to plot your prefered destination on a map. This is then uploaded via USB to the shoe. The GPS is powered by a battery similar to those found in mobile phones. The data from the GPS in the left shoe wirelessly communicates with the right shoe which shows the progress made on a row of lights.
The red tag at the back contains the GPS antenna which is positioned to point upwards. The shoes are built around two microcontrollers called Arduinos.
“I chose mini LED lights as they needed to be visible outdoor in sunlight. There were other alternatives like digital displays but given the distance from the eyes these LED’s seemed the best option.”
A magnet in the right shoe and sensor in the left shoe detects when the magnet is near and tells the microcontroller in the left shoe when the heels have been clicked to start the GPS.
Nicholas Cooper of Stamp Shoes gets to work on making the shoe design and integrating the lights at the front to the GPS at the back.
Preparing the leather.
No Place Like Home shoe in the shoe Last.
The heal was hollowed out for the box of technology and a space for the battery.