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Wearable Tech

How Pizza Hut's TV-pausing, pizza-ordering shoes work

Imagine two Amazon Dash buttons sewn into specialized, limited-edition marketing gimmicks. Welcome to the return of the Pie Top.

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Pizza shoes.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I'm not here to tell you why pizza-ordering, TV-pausing shoes exist. But, I can tell you how they work.

Pizza Hut created a marketing stunt of specialized sneakers last year that could order a pizza (Pizza Hut only, of course) with a press of a large button on top.

This year, these shoes have returned: Pie Tops II, as they're called. As a wearable tech reviewer, I was naturally curious.

Now Playing: Watch this: We wear Pizza Hut's pizza-ordering, TV-pausing shoes
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I got a chance to wear them, and I took a peek at how they work. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised that they're a little less high-tech than I imagined. Basically, they're shoes with smart buttons tucked inside velcro-sealed pockets on each tongue.

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A Flic is inside! But it's locked, it can't be unleashed for other things.

Scott Stein/CNET

And, look what's inside? One has a Flic smart button inside, locked to Pizza Hut's Pie Tops app (I tried to reset it to do other things, and failed).

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The TV-pausing tech.

Scott Stein/CNET

The other has an IR blaster-type clicker inside that looks like it's 3D-printed.

Sneaker collectors take note: they're a limited run of 50, created by the Shoe Surgeon, a custom sneaker designer in Los Angeles. Pizza Hut's run of Pie Tops last year were made the same way. 

The shoes are red or wheat-colored. The smart button shoe pairs via Bluetooth to the Pizza Hut Pie Tops app to basically do one-press ordering. The TV-clicker IR blaster shoe only works with certain cable TV set-top box DVRs to pause live television... a one-button remote with a limited use unless you're a DVR-box cable user.

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Wheat pizza shoes.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you're desperate to buy a pair of Pizza Hut sneakers, they'll be available to order on March 19 on HBX, until the limited run ends. 

I've been wearing a pair for a few days. So far, they're a little tight on my feet. They're slowly breaking in. Technically, you could add any other smart button to the shoes and have them do other things. Perhaps we should call these shoes-with-pockets instead of smart shoes?

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Close-up on the IR blaster in the tongue. Like one of those keychains, but in your shoe.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It's a marketing stunt timed to March Madness. It's absurd. Of course, branded weirdness has been around for years now, like the Doritos MP3 player bag or an unfolding pizza turntable. At least these are actual shoes.

Plenty of other smart shoes already exist in the world. GPS-enabled safety ones, training ones and fitness ones. Add some volume controls and voice, and maybe the next Pie Tops could be... never mind.

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