A new wearable tech entrant, the Bluetooth-enabled Lechal smartshoe, got off to a running start with 25,000 pre-orders from retailers around the globe, but it isn’t clear whether consumers will want their feet to climb the technology ladder. Indian start-up firm Ducere Technologies’ smartshoe will hit shelves by October, priced at around $100 a pair, the firm told CNBC. By syncing up with a smartphone app that uses Google Maps, the shoe’s insole vibrates to tell users when and where to turn to reach their destination.
Founders Krispian Lawrence and Anirudh Sharma, who started the firm in 2011, initially designed the shoe to aid the visually-impaired who typically rely on canes, but said during testing they realized the shoe could also appeal to joggers, mountain bikers and tourists as well.
The smartshoe from Lechal – which means ‘take me there’ in Hindi – is the latest addition to the stable of wearable tech products coming out of India recently, following a wristband that connects to a personal trainer and a ring that can switch on home appliances.
Other wearable tech products have seen some success, such as the ‘Google Glass’- spectacles which give wearers access to the Internet using voice commands, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear ‘smartwatch’ which compliments the smartphone and tablet, and Nike’s FuelBand, an activity tracker which connects with an iPhone or iPad device.
EuroMonitor forecasts wearable electronics sales will grow from 22 million units in 2014 to 258 million in 2018, closing in on the numbers of tablet sales.
But Shane Walker, who manages the medical devices and healthcare IT research portfolio at IHS, told CNBC Ducere’s smartshoes may only have a limited appeal. “It’s an interesting wearable application, and goes a bit beyond what other smart footwear has done in the past. However, I expect that this will be a niche product, at least when it comes to a non-visually impaired consumer looking for a location/fitness product,” he said.
Aileen Ho, a 37-year old Singaporean running enthusiast, agreed. She told CNBC she would have some reservations about buying a ‘smartshoe.’.. see more