They're like those light-up shoes that you had when you were a kid -- the ones that blink and flash, activated by the pressure of your tread -- but they're also 200 percent cooler than that. Orphe, developed by Japanese startup No New Folk Studio and currently seeking Indiegogo backers, is a programmable performance shoe fitted with 100 full-colour, serially controlled LEDs, advanced motion sensors and a wireless Bluetooth module -- designed to enhance and become a part of your dance moves.
The LEDs, designed to allow users to map interactions between light, movement and sound, can be controlled in two ways: firstly, via a connected app that communicates with the shoes via Bluetooth; and secondly, the user can use the app to program the shoes to respond a certain way to the wearer's movements.
"Orphe's lights can be set to change along with the speed and orientation of a dancer's movements, allowing for various forms of expression and performance -- giving motion an 'aura', for example, or creating a design using after-images," No New Folk wrote.
"The 9-axis sensors embedded in each sole pick up the movements of each shoe in real time. This data can then be used to wirelessly control various external devices, allowing the shoes to function as musical instruments, video game controllers, foot switches, etc."
What No New Folk hopes is that users will design their own macros and share them with a community to develop the way the shoes are used, inspired by the hardware, its applications and each other.
"More than money ... what we need are people who will join us in creating with new forms of artistic expression using these tools," the team wrote. "We hope that with the participation of a diverse range of people involved in the creation of expressive art, including not only dancers and musicians but also developers and designers, our technology can lead to the emergence of a completely new culture of audiovisual expression."
The shoes -- which were developed with the assistance of a traditional shoemaker to overcome the challenges of integrating footwear and electronics, and come in plain black and plain white to let the LEDs shine to their best effect -- each contain a small unified circuitboard with an ARM Cortex-M3 microprocessor, an InvenSense MPU-9150 9-axis motion-tracking device, a BLE wireless module and a charging circuit, as well as the high-density LED strip around the sole.
They can also be used with the free iOS app that the studio has developed, and the team hopes to release an SDK so that users can create their own software.
The shows are currently being offered as a reward for an early bird pledge of $270 (about AU$355, £180), after which they'll be $330 (about AU$435, £225) a pair, with an estimated delivery in December. Head over to the Orphe Indiegogo page to check them out.