While we will never understand quite why some people buy hundreds of pairs of trainers, we are pretty impressed by one pair that will be able to change style and colour on the wearer's whim.
The Shift Sneaker is a mock-up of what our shoes could be like in the future. The design blends existing and near-future textiles, which enables the trainer to be programmed and personalised according to the tastes and needs of individual users.
The design was conceived by creative technology company Rehabstudio. Users can change sneaker functionality and design by downloading, designing and developing 'packs' from a Pack Store, which is a bit like the App Store, but for shoes.
The trainers themselves uses tech-apparel materials that currently only have industrial applications including: woven LED strips that could act as a malleable flexi screen to display the Shift designs; conductive fibres that pass electrical pulses, detect human touch and act as an anti-static surface; and thermochromic fabrics which use chemical micro-reactions to produce an apparent change in colour at specific temperatures.
As the shoes are more of a concept than reality, other materials the shoes use don't currently exist. These include Phase Change fibres and Shape Memory materials that enable interchangeability between designs, locking chosen patterns to the sneakers and metamaterials that manipulate fabric tissue allowing properties which bend-light particles but also adapt to variables such as surface or temperature.
“We hacked sneakers because they have a global market and diehard fans in sports and fashion, but their form and functionality has barely changed since their first design. They're the perfect product for pushing our design thinking,” said Mike Veitch, Managing Partner at Rehabstudio.