The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

If Those Shoes Could Talk… Well Now They Can, Thanks to Google

Posted by on Monday, March 25th, 2013


Connectivity is the buzzword these days. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being the American Dialect Society’s word of the year for 2013. (2012’s word of the year was “Hashtag.” Yawn.) Point is, we’re all connected like never before, via our computers, phones, department store loyalty card buying histories, the GPS systems in our cars, mobile tracking technology on trains and planes, satellite images, Google Maps… Pretty much everything we do is recorded in some way. It would be terrifying if it had happened more quickly. But like the frog in the slowly boiling pot of water, what happens gradually seems somehow to escape our notice. Then all of a sudden we wake up one day and our shoes are telling us we’re not getting enough exercise. At least, that’s what’s going to happen if Google has its way.

At SXSW this year, the giant festival of music and technology that I’ve always wanted to go to, Google debuted their amazing talking shoes. Move over Google Glass, this is the next big thing. These things are kind of like those 90s pump sneakers except instead of pumps you’ve got speakers, and instead of extra bounce you’ve got constant electronic monitoring a la Star Trek. They aren’t the most attractive things in the world, but the concept is pretty incredible: these are shoes that track your movements and help motivate you to move more. Just what an obese America needs, right? Well, maybe.

I don’t know about you but talking sneakers give me the willies. I know perfectly well that I’ve been sitting in this chair for three hours straight without a single stretch break. I know I haven’t been for a run in like six days. In other words, I know I could probably use some exercise. My shoes informing me of my laziness would do one thing and one thing only: irritate the heck out of me. But that’s me. I’m sure there are some people who need some electronic encouragement. And for those people, these shoes are perfect.

And another thing: I don’t really want my shoes recording everywhere I go. It’s bad enough having a cell phone in my pocket. I sorely miss the days when phones lived in the home and going to the supermarket meant privacy. And now my shoes are going to post to Facebook every time I walk from my desk to the bathroom? No thanks.

My personal proclivities aside, I’m sure there are some really cool potential applications for this technology. Mapping your running route, speed, and the impact of your steps, for example. Or even suggesting exercises based on injury information, like if you have bunions or plantar fasciitis. We’ll have to wait and see whether shoe manufactures use the technology for good or evil. Stay tuned.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.