ShoeSense prototype enables gesture-based control over smartphone

It’s a little bit different from the shoe phone that satirical spy Maxwell Smart used, but the team at ShoeSense has a modern take on how your footwear could be used to control your phone.

The team of computer scientists from Telekom Innovation Laboratories, the University of Munich and the University of Toronto published a paper this week on their experimental wearable computer system to enable gestural control of a smartphone. The Canadian connection to the team is University of Toronto assistant professor Daniel Wigdor, also the author of Brave NUI World: Designing Natural User Interfaces for Touch and Gestures.

Using a Microsoft Kinect sensor as a prototype device, ShoeSense demonstrates how users can control their smartphone using several different gestures. Gliding a finger along your forearm can increase the volume on your music playback for example, or swiping your hand while forming a circle with your finger and thumb can skip to the next track.

ShoeSense says shoes are the perfect article of clothing for wearable technology sensors. Shoes are always available, there’s no risk of being covered up by other clothes, they present a large surface area to house a sensor, and could even store up human-generated power. The best part is that gestures could be used to covertly access your smartphone when it’s not socially appropriate to paw at the device – like when you’re stuck in that long meeting at the office.

ShoeSense is a little bit cumbersome in the current prototype mode.

Brian JacksonBrian Jackson is the Associate Editor at E-mail him at, follow him on Twitter, connect on Google+, read his blog, and check out the IT Business Facebook Page.
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