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Shoe phone talks the talk, walks the walk

An Australian post-doctoral fellow in bioinformatics has developed a wearable shoe that can place and receive calls wirelessly. Maxwell Smart would be proud.

Can you heel me now? Engineer Paul Gardner-Stephen first developed his shoe phone as a theatrical prop, but later envisioned applications for remote patient monitoring.
Ruth Mitchell
The hollowed-out heel of one shoe houses the phone itself. Asthon Claridge

Ever since secret agent Maxwell Smart rang up the chief on that infamous shoe phone, geeks have mentally scoured the gadget aisles for footwear that could look dashing while doubling as a telecommunications device.

Here at Crave, we've written about wired shoe-shaped phones before, but Paul Gardner-Stephen has pretty much left those in the dust with his wearable shoe phone that can place and receive calls wirelessly.

A post-doctoral fellow in bioinformatics at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, Gardner-Stephen developed the device by hollowing out the heels on a pair of men's dress shoes with a chisel and screwdriver and placing a phone in one cavity and a Bluetooth headset in the other.

He then reassembled the heels, punching holes in the rubber soles for the phone's answer/hangup and speaker buttons and the blue LED on the headset. He added a little plastic between the heel and sole for water-resistance, charged his shoe, and started dialing up his friends (via voice).

He first developed his device as a theater prop for a local church camp, but later envisioned applying it to remote patient management--tasks like managing pulse, blood pressure, and blood oxygenation.

"A shoe is a good location for housing the electronics required for storing and communicating these measurements," the inventor said. "Shoes are well-accepted by most people, and are simple to put on and take off."

Gardner-Stephen also thinks the shoes could hold sensors to detect if a wearer falls. That would be particularly useful, he said, for use in nursing homes and aging-care facilities.

Watch the video after the jump to see Gardner-Stephen's shoe ringing. And if you're hankering for your own pair of Get Smart footgear, Gardner-Stephen has posted detailed instructions. Of course, if do you manage a working pair, your invention will be a shoe-in for a Crave feature.