Shift Sneaker: The Future of Footwear

rehabstudio shift sneakerImagine you’re in a store surrounded by boxes of shoes, just trying to decide which pair to buy. You can’t get them all, right? Well, not just yet, but the creative technology company Rehabstudio believes that, when you buy a single pair of sneakers in the future, you’ll actually be buying one million pairs. In exploring the possibilities behind how technology will one day shape shoe design, they’ve conceptualized the “Shift Sneaker,” in which consumers can modify the color layout on a whim based on their lifestyle and personal preferences.

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The “Shift Sneaker” is a million pairs of sneakers in one. Rehabstudio hacked the sneaker as an exercise in futurology using groundbreaking and near-future textiles. The sneaker-based, wearable technology was designed with an intelligent membrane or “smart surface” that can think and react to external stimuli. So the sneaker design can transform styles and colors through the tap of a smartphone or click of a heel.

rehabstudio shift sneakerThe sneaker’s “smart surface” was designed with tech-apparel materials not yet in existence, including: LED woven strips; conductive fibers that pass electrical pulses, detect human touch, and act as an anti-static surface; and thermochromic fabrics which use chemical micro-reactions to produce a change in color at specific temperatures.

rehabstudio shift sneaker“Shift Sneaker” users will be able to change sneaker style and functionality by downloading different ‘packs’ from a Pack Store – a sneaker-specific app store. Styles will range from subtle glows to animated graphics from world leading designers and creatives, and even rare limited editions from artists and brands. For example, a “Selfie Pack” matches your sneakers to your outfit, a “Running Pack” changes colors based on your performance, and a “Connection Pack” allows you to match with another user. The high-concept sneaker offers endless possibilities for designers, and gives wearers the ability to easily mix up their shoe style daily!

rehabstudio shift sneakerPhotos courtesy of Rehabstudio

People will not only have the ability to select specific designs as often as they want, but they will also be able to change sneaker designs based on other variables such as a change in movement, temperature, or location. The store will act as an open-source application platform where anyone can easily design, develop, and upload their own packs, that can then be downloaded by all “Shift Sneaker” wearers.

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“We have offices in Belfast, London and New York. The latter two are global hubs for sneaker culture, and so sneaker culture is part of our company culture too. But we’ve always been amazed by how the conversation around sneakers has moved faster than the design, which is basically still the same as it was 50 years ago,” said Mike Veitch, managing partner at Rehabstudio. “As creative technologists we’re also deeply interested the growing wearables industry [….] Shift Sneaker was born out of trying to make wearable tech look good and trying to revolutionise sneaker design at the same time.”

The “Shift Sneaker” design is the latest product of monthly, week-long hacks from Rehabstudio. Every ‘Hackweek’ focuses on a topic the team feels passionate about and challenges Rehabstudio’s diverse creative skills.

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What do you think about the future of shoe design?

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