World Footwear


Lechal smart shoes assure they will guide the way

Sep 3, 2014 India

Lechal Footwear

An Indian high-tech start-up has a new GPS-enabled smart sports shoe that vibrates to give the wearer directions

Lechal smart shoes are fitted with a detachable Bluetooth transceiver that links to a smartphone app to direct the wearer using Google maps, sending a vibrating signal to indicate a left or right turn. Inside the Lechal’s polyurethane antibacterial insoles are two USB batteries powering the haptic system. The compatible wall charger operates using finger-snaps and reports charging levels via audio tones. The shoes will also count the number of steps taken, distance travelled and calories burned, and will go on sale this month under the name Lechal, which means "take me along" in Hindi.

Two engineering graduates, Krispian Lawrence and Anirudh Sharma, founded Ducere, the tech start-up behind the product. Back in 2011 with the support of business angels they kicked off the project from a small apartment and now they employ 50 people.

What started as an idea to help visually challenged people, soon developed into many other possible applications. Smart shoes aimed at specific markets already exist, as footwear for dementia sufferers or children whose movements some parents want to keep track of are available and currently commercialized. What seems to differentiate this product from others, is the creators' belief that this product will be the first to target mass-market consumers. To achieve it, they have focused on creating stylish footwear and not just functional product wear.

The company says they have 25 000 advance orders already, which will be retailed at between 100 US dollars and 150 US dollars. Word of mouth the website have been the main distribution and marketing channels, while the company says they will soon have the product available in retail stores (in India and the US).

As people don’t leave their houses without the shoes, the creators believe this product is a natural fit to those who need an extra push from an intuition point of view. It obviously will help resolving orientation and direction problems. As insoles are removable, the heart of the haptic/navigation system is transferable to other footwear options, enlarging the usage possibilities.

Again, battery failure or loss of Bluetooth connectivity are concerns voiced, however, the issue offering controversy seems to be the one about privacy and the risks of breaking it. The creators of the Lechal shoe say it won’t be an issue, as they strongly focus on security.

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