Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Talking shoes…

Nike and Apple have announced Nike+iPod. This lets your shoes talk to your iPod and communicate things like distance, time, pace, calories burned, etc.

This is freaking cool. Cheap too at $29. Wireless! I'm curious to see if the Nike+iPod system will be hacked in interesting ways.

This immediately reminded me of something I saw 10 years ago at the Media Lab 10 year reunion. Professor Neil Gershenfeld demonstrated a prototype that allowed people to exchange business cards with a handshake (using "shoe computers.")

I was a contemporary at MIT with folks like Steve Mann (referred to here as the "grandfather of wearable computers", and Thad Starner (who actually UROP'd for Martin and me back in the day.)

I must admit feeling somewhat annoyed at these early experiments in wearable computing. The get-ups surely looked ridiculous. Steve and Thad were totally conspicuous as they walked around campus. (Remember, ten+ years ago we're talking about tens of pounds of gear.)

Now I experience trauma and seperation anxiety if I'm out of contact with my Treo for more than a minute.

Thanks Steve, Thad, Sandy, et. al. for your brave pioneering efforts in this field. Thanks Nike and Apple for something very cool, though admittedly not for me.