PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD

The multi-billion dollar business in 'wired' footwear and smart clothing

Remember when shoes used to be just, well, shoes? Not anymore! Today’s footwear does so much more than cover your feet. Footwear has evolved tremendously in the past few years, creating a massive new multi-billion-dollar industry for fashion and electronics.

Think of those kids’ shoes that flashed lights as the little dears scampered around. Today those same shoes can – and have, in some celebrated cases – help track missing children through built-in GPS sensors.

They’re also proving helpful in keeping track of elderly patients with Alzheimer’s – and for watching the movements of paroled criminals. Virtually every teenager is now wearing shoes where those same sensors act as mobile networks, which means they’re always connected. Cool!

And it’s now a simple step to power up those mobile devices. Nanotechnology built into our shoes enables us to generate electricity as we walk. Latest models feature self-repairing fabrics; plus they’re totally waterproof, and never need cleaning. Just imagine, shoes that always shine!

It’s all part of the smart-fabrics, or e-textile revolution, combined with the ongoing miniaturization of electronics. It’s commonplace today to buy many items of clothing embedded with electronics, from phones to heart monitors – even weapons for the security services.

Carpets come complete with embedded LEDs for new fashions in lighting. Those same LEDs are being used to brighten both men and women’s fashions. Clothing for the disabled gives them new mobility capacity. School caps even come with inbuilt learning systems!

And the new craze of skin tattoos featuring embedded electronics for device-less connectivity is sweeping the youth market. Next step, surely, must be sensors under our skins?

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.