'Smart shoe' to kids: Get off your duff

The day may come when kids don't ask their parents if they can watch more TV--they ask their shoes.

Gillian Swan, a 22-year-old student at London's Brunel University School of Design, has created a children's insole aimed at kick-starting a healthier, more active lifestyle. The product, embedded with sensors and dubbed "Square-eyes," records the number of daily steps taken, then transmits the tally to a base station using a radio signal.

The station, which is connected to the television, calculates the TV time the child has earned and displays it on an LCD screen. Once a kid's tube time runs out, the TV automatically switches itself off and is disabled until the child exhausts his or her step allotment. (The daily goal for Square-eyes wearers is 12,000 steps for girls and 15,000 for boys).

"Ten years ago, children were entertained by playing games with their friends, now they are cooped up in their bedrooms watching hours of television programs," Swan said. "Square-eyes will help children to include exercise in their daily routines from an early age."

The invention was among those displayed at Brunel Design 2005, an annual showcase of work by Brunel design students that took place earlier this month.

"Smart shoes" aren't entirely new. In March, Adidas began selling the first model of its so-called intelligent footwear, a running shoe known as Adidas-1 that's built around an onboard microprocessor.

About the author

Leslie Katz, Crave's senior editor, heads up a team that covers the most crushworthy (and wackiest) tech, science, and culture around. As a co-host of the now-retired CNET News Daily Podcast, she was sometimes known to channel Terry Gross and still uses her trained "podcast voice" to bully the speech recognition software on automated customer service lines. E-mail Leslie.

 

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