A startup is working on a product that can tell you exactly what it's like to walk a mile in someone else's shoes — because the insoles record every touch of pressure.
ESoles Inc., which makes custom insoles for athletic shoes, has created prototype insoles with pressure sensors that relay their information wirelessly to a nearby cell phone. Then an application on the phone can tell the wearer how much pressure he or she is applying in 11 different zones of each sole.
The system has been used to analyze the technique of the U.S. Olympic BMX team, helping them figure out how to apply maximum power to the bicycle pedals out of the gate, said Glen Hinshaw, founder of in Scottsdale, Ariz.-based eSoles and a former professional cyclist.
The system can also analyze a golf swing or skiing posture, Hinshaw said.
Sports aren't the only application — the insoles can work in games. ESoles is trying a jump rope game, in which the phone screen shows a swinging rope, and users have to time their jumps to it.
"If you leave one leg on the ground and you're only lifting the other foot, the jump rope stops, because it's not clearing your foot," Hinshaw said.
Nintendo Co. makes a balance board accessory for its Wii game console that senses the force from the user's feet. ESoles' sensing insoles would essentially do the same thing, but without tying the user to an immobile board.
Hinshaw also envisions medical uses — perhaps for warning diabetes patients who have lost feeling in their feet that they risk injury from too much pressure.
Hinshaw said the company plans to make the insoles available in a limited trial version in July, then take them fully commercial late this year. The initial price for the sensors would be about $300, but he hopes to bring the price under $50.