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Designer Dominic Wilcox has created a fully functional prototype pair of shoes that will guide you home no matter where you are in the world.
"I was commissioned by the Global Footprint project in Northamptonshire*, a place famous for shoe making, to create some shoes. I decided to make a pair of shoes that can navigate you to anywhere you wish to travel to. I thought about 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." - Dominic Wilcox
Wilcox etched little illustrations onto the sole and chose a red calf leather for the inside as a small reference to Dorothy's red shoes in the Wizard of Oz:
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 preferred 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 perforated arrow detail is a nice touch:
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:
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.
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.
The bespoke made GPS prototype shoes are currently on display at Dominic Wilcox's solo exhibition at KK Outlet, 42 Hoxton Square, London, until the 26th September.
*Global Footprint delivers an innovative and ambitious countywide programme of contemporary ‘living heritage’ events and exhibitions, using visual and digital arts to showcase and celebrate Northamptonshire’s defining cultural heritage and identity: its boot and shoe industry.
The industry will be brought to life by a series of special commissions, exhibitions, events, trails, projections and talks that utilise a range of new digital technologies to explore the boot- and shoe-making’s continued importance to the national and international economic, creative and cultural profile of the county.
Key partners include Northamptonshire County Council, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, the University of Northampton, Fishmarket Gallery and numerous independent museums and heritage organisations.
images courtesy of Dominic Wilcox and inhabitat