Are GPS-fitted shoes the way to ensure you never get lost?

Whether or not they are ever worn by lost grey nomad bushwalkers, the wonderfully innovative GPS-fitted shoes recently developed in the UK are still a cracking idea.

Inspired by Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz who could famously transport herself home with a click of her heels, British designer Dominic Wilcox has created a pair of prototype shoes which can guide the wearer home with built-in GPS navigation.

Whether or not long-distance hikers ever actually wear the hi-tech footwear to help them to find their way back to the campsite is almost irrelevant.

The important thing is they could!

Here’s how it works.

wizard of oz shows

A magnet in the right shoe and a sensor in the left detect when the heels are clicked together, activating the smart shoes. There is a red tag on back of the left shoe which contains the GPS antenna.

A GPS unit contained within the heel of the specially-made left shoe communicates wirelessly with the tech in the right shoe and provides data to the integrated LED lights which are visible on the upper part of the shoe.

The wearer’s left shoe has a circle of LEDs and, depending on which one illuminates, it will effectively point the correct direction ‘home’.

The right shoe has a row of LEDs to indicate how much of the journey remains. Grey nomads who may have just arrived at a new campsite can add a new ‘home destination’ to the shoes so the footwear knows where it is supposed to take them back to.

This is done via a USB connection to a computer which runs purpose-made mapping software. The internal hardware is controlled by dual Arduino micro-controllers, and power is provided by a mobile phone-like battery pack.

The shoes are fittingly named ‘No Place Like Home’, the words that Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz had to utter when she clicked her heels three times in order to go back to Kansas.

Dominic Wilcox designed the shoes after being commissioned to do so by the Global Footprint project in Northamptonshire, which was seeking to highlight the English county’s rich history of shoe making.

There is no indication yet whether the shoes will ever go into full production.

  • Would wearing a bushwalking version of this shoe give you a greater sense of security when out walking in the wilds, or do you think it’s an interesting idea … but one that should get the boot? Email us here to share your thoughts.
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