While many brands behind the best running shoes claim to have harnessed the soft bouncy attributes of trapped air in their models, from the On Cloudmonster trainer to Nike’s fleet of Air Zoom runners, Italian tech company WAHU have gone a big step further with their about-to-be-released anti-gravity smart sneakers.
Powered by an integrated battery, and using robotic technology, sensors and AI smarts, the level of cushioning on this futuristic new shoe can be adjusted via a smartphone, which will also capture intel about your walking and running habits.
These high-tech hover hooves from WAHU (opens in new tab) employ a pneumatic system, which exploits and controls airflow inside the sole and allows you to levitate a little from the terrain you’re walking or running across. Simultaneously, the shoes can modify the absorptive power of the soles, modifying the amount of cushioning you enjoy and the extent of elevation from the ground. Pressure, acceleration and gyro sensors within the shoe will detect user activity, and this is used to improve sneakers' feedback.
Machine learning algorithms - the shoes’ brain - reads data from the sensors and feeds it through the WAHU App (available for iOS and Android, and integrable with Apple and Samsung watches). Via this app you will then, they say, be able to manage the performance of your shoes, switching between modes and adjusting the level of ‘float’ you want while you walk or run. The app will also monitor the battery life, and record the number of steps you take, how far you have travelled, the elapsed time and the quality of your walking/running.
Each shoe comes with its own battery (and a wireless charging platform), and fully loaded these supply 14 hours of power. Once this is exhausted the shoes continue to work as standard runners.
Designed initially for use on urban streets and well compacted paths, the potential for this technology to be taken off road and onto the trails certainly exists. A very far cry from the tendency towards minimalism among many trail runners, the possibility of having a pneumatically cushioned shoe to protect joints from repetitive foot striking, and the data-recording capability of this shoe will definitely interest some.
WAHU launched the Kickstarter campaign (opens in new tab) to release these shoes this week, and it’s already floated beyond the target amount. We look forward to trying a pair of these soon, and will report back about their performance.