The days of squinting at a map or the screen of your smartphone when you’re lost will soon be over – thanks to new shoes that tell you which way to turn.
The shoes use a Bluetooth link to communicate with your mobile’s mapping system.
The mobile works out which route you should be following and the shoes then emit a discreet vibration in either foot telling you when and where to change direction.
End of the SatNav? The shoe stops users getting lost by vibrating when it's time to change direction
Best foot forward: Two engineers have created a $100 smart trainer that guides its wearer by vibration. The team at Lechal, which is based in India, designed the shoe so that it connects to the owner's smartphone via Bluetooth to work out their location and destination
The shoes will also count the number of steps you’ve taken and the calories you’ve burned – and they’ll even buzz to warn you you’ve left your phone behind, or to alert you when you’re travelling past an interesting landmark.
The ‘footnav’ technology, called Lechal, comes either ready-fitted in a Ferrari-red shoe or as an insole that can be slipped into any shoe. Both cost $100.
'They are as easy to use as a tap on the shoulder,’ said Krispian Lawrence, 30, who developed the shoes with partner Anirudh Sharma, 28, in Hyderabad, India.
‘It’s that intuitive – if someone taps you on the left shoulder, you immediately turn left. This product harnesses that basic instinct.
‘You can even communicate with them using hand gestures and finger snaps because the shoes have sensors that can pick up movement and sound.
'You can also tell them how many calories you want to burn and they’ll plot the perfect run or cycle.’
Good vibrations: The shoes and insoles connect to the owner's smartphone via Bluetooth to work out their location and destination. That means the shoe will let the owner know when they have to turn left or right by vibrating in either the left or right shoe
The Lechal shoes go on sale worldwide in June but Lawrence and Sharma’s company, Ducere Technologies, has already taken more than 3,000 pre-orders.
Lawrence believes the shoes will also improve road safety. ‘If I’m on my bike or motorbike, I don’t want to stare at my phone – it’s dangerous,’ he says.
‘I’d rather be guided by my footwear.’
He believes his innovation will prove invaluable for the visually impaired and has pledged that every mainstream pair sold by Ducere will subsidise a cheaper pair for a visually impaired person.
Footnav technology does not impress explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, however.
‘What’s wrong with a good old-fashioned map?’ said the 70-year-old when told of the shoes.
‘If you rely too heavily on technology you’re heading for trouble.
'Too many people have forgotten – or never learned – the basics: how to read a map and a compass.’
Just say no: Television presenter Hannah White is not a fan of the new shoes believing that they kill off skills like map-reading
TV presenter and adventurer Hannah White is also sceptical.
White, a patron of the British Exploring Society and host of Channel 5’s Go Hard Or Go Home, said:
‘The art of map-reading is dying out – killed off by inventions like this – and that’s tragic.
‘The global positioning system works best when it teaches you the way so you don’t have to use it the next time.
'With satnav in your shoes, you’ll never have to look even at an on-screen map so you’ll never learn.
That’s going backwards, not forwards.’