US 20070033838 A1
A shoe wear indicator device for use in combination with athletic shoes for monitoring and reporting qualitative wear and tear on athletic shoes. The shoe wear indicator device includes an insole housing a power supply/user interface unit, a microchip, a sensor unit, and an interface cable. The shoe wear indicator device is used by: (1) a user inserting the device into an athletic shoe; (2) the user exercising or playing various sports; (3) the user removing the device from the shoe; (4) the user connecting the device to a terminal; the user downloading shoe usage data; and (5) the user replacing the shoe if the useful life of the shoe has been exhausted.
1. A shoe wear indicator device comprising an insole, a sensor unit, a microchip, a power supply/user interface, and an interface cable wherein said sensor unit, microchip, power supply/user interface and interface cable are housed within said insole.
2. The shoe wear indicator device of
3. The shoe wear indicator device of
4. The shoe wear indicator device of
5. The shoe indicator device of
6. The shoe indicator device of
7. The shoe indicator device of
8. The shoe indicator device of
9. A method for using shoe wear indicator device in combination with shoes comprising the steps of:
inserting a shoe wear indicator device into a shoe;
using the shoe for physical activity;
removing the shoe wear indicator device from the shoe;
connecting the shoe wear indicator device to a terminal; and
downloading shoe usage data from the shoe wear indicator to the terminal in order to determine shoe usage.
The present invention relates generally to athletic shoes having the capability to measure cumulative use and indicate the need for replacing the shoes. More specifically, the present invention relates to insertable insoles that accurately provide for qualitative evaluation of wear and tear on athletic shoes and indicate the need for shoe replacement.
Consumers of athletic shoes, including shoes for running, cross-training, and specialized activities (i.e. aerobics, basketball, tennis, etc.), need to know when the loss of shock-absorbing capabilities necessitates replacement of existing footwear. This is especially true for wear and tear on the outsole and in the midsole that is undetectable to consumers by visual inspection alone. Consumers benefit financially and physically by knowing when to replace their existing athletic shoes with a new pair. Because high-end athletic shoes range in price anywhere from $80.00 to over $100.00, premature replacement creates unnecessary expense for consumers. Delayed replacement, however, can cause consumers pain while exercising and lead to injury.
Shoe wear indicators are known in the art. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,578,291 to Hirsch et al. discloses a built-in, electronic wear indicator device capable of signaling extent of shoe sole wear, loss of ability to cushion and absorb shock, and a need to replace the shoe. The wear indicator device comprises a sensor and microprocessor which can measure and report the use history of the shoe, a wear indicator display which shows the consumer the current point in the shoe's life cycle, and a power source. The wear indicator device is installed between the midsole and outsole during the manufacturing process and is therefore, built-in and unobtrusive to the user.
Another example is U.S. Pat. No. 5,894,682 to Broz which discloses a built-in wear-indicator device capable of signaling extent of shoe wear, biomechanical compatibility with the user, loss of the ability to cushion or absorb shock, and a need for shoe replacement. The wear indicator device comprises a shoe having an outsole made of durable material to withstand contact and wear and a midsole made of cushioning material to absorb shock. The wear indicator consists of plugs made out of less compactable material installed throughout the midsole and extending into the outsole. As the midsole material breaks down more quickly than the wear indicator, the midsole compacts and contracts vertically while the wear indicator retains its vertical dimension and projects further out from the bottom of the midsole into the outsole in response to wear. With extended wear, the protrusion of the wear indicator into the outsole becomes detectable to the wearer and signals the need to replace the shoe.
A disadvantage of known shoe wear indicators is that calculation of wear and tear is based on the cumulative number of steps a user has taken. This quantitative calculation does not provide the user with a precise evaluation of the actual wear and tear on the shoes because it does not take into account that high impact activities, like running, create more wear and tear on shoes than low impact activities like walking.
Another disadvantage of known shoe wear indicators is the inability for the indicators to store information regarding usage and wear. Users who wish to retrieve information regarding training performance are unable to access such information from known show wear indicators.
Another disadvantage of known shoe wear indicators is the requirement that the indicators be built into the shoes themselves. The manufacturing process for athletic shoes must be modified to accommodate the addition of the indicators into the midsole or outsole of the shoes.
Yet another disadvantage related to the build-in feature of known shoe wear indicators is the inability to reuse the indicators after the useful life of the shoes has expired.
Accordingly, there is a need for a reusable device, insertable into athletic shoes, which provides a qualitative evaluation of the wear and tear on athletic shoes to determine when the functional utility of the athletic shoes has been exhausted.
An object of the present invention is to provide a device which serves to monitor and report wear and tear on athletic shoes that may not necessarily be apparent to the wearer by measuring cumulative usage of the athletic shoes and providing a qualitative evaluation based on the force exerted on the athletic shoes.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a device that is manufactured separately from athletic shoes and, thus, is not built into the shoes themselves so as to require the manufacturing process for shoes to be modified to accommodate the present invention.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a device that may be reused by merely removing the device upon detecting the expiration of the useful life of a pair of shoes and placing the device in a new pair of shoes.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a device that can store information regarding usage and wear so that users who wish to retrieve information regarding training performance are able to access such information.
Accordingly, the present invention is directed to a device for use in combination with athletic shoes for monitoring and reporting qualitative wear and tear on athletic shoes. The device comprises an insole housing a power supply/user interface unit, a microchip, a sensor unit, and an interface cable.
The present invention is further directed to a method of using a device in combination with athletic shoes to monitor and report qualitative wear and tear on the athletic shoes. The method comprises the steps of: (1) a user inserting the device into an athletic shoe; (2) the user exercising or playing various sports; (3) the user removing the device from the shoe; (4) the user connecting the device to a terminal; the user downloading shoe usage data; and (5) the user replacing the shoe if the useful life of the shoe has been exhausted.
Although the device of the present invention is capable of tabulating mileage, the device goes beyond simply tabulating mileage because it is designed to provide a qualitative evaluation of the wear and tear on athletic shoes, based on the theory that high impact activities like running create more wear and tear on shoes than low impact activities like walking.
The features of the present application can be more readily understood from the detailed description below with reference to the accompanying drawings herein.
As shown in
Insole 2 is preferably made of any type of flexible elastomer, such as ethylene vinyl acetate, silicone, or plasticized polyurethane. Insole 2 may be formed from multiple layers so as to create space for housing sensor unit 4, microchip 6, power supply/user interface 8 and interface cable 10. Alternatively, insole 2 may be a single layer injected with air to create space for housing sensor unit 4, microchip 6, power supply/user interface 8 and interface cable 10. Furthermore, insole 2 can be coated or injected with known materials for preventing bacterial growth on footwear. Microchips are also known as microprocessors and readily commercially available. No special microprocessor is required for use as microchip 6. For example, an Intel 80386 could be used.
Sensor unit 4 and microchip 6 are connected so that microchip 6 can record, calculate and store information upon sensor unit 4 detecting impact resulting from athletic shoe use. Sensor unit 4 may be any type pressure-change sensing device capable of detecting displacement upon application of a force including, but not limited to, air bladders, gel packs, and the like. Sensor unit 4 requires a certain minimal degree of displacement to register impact. The degree of displacement above the minimal level of displacement corresponds to the amount of force exerted on the athletic shoe by use. A particular type of athletic shoe has a certain maximum useful life, determined by the manufacturer, which can be expressed as a function, calculated by microchip 6, of number of impacts and magnitude of displacement registered by sensor unit 4.
Microchip 6 is connected to power supply/user interface 8 such that microchip 6 can transfer information recorded, calculated and stored regarding shoe usage to power supply/user interface 8. Microchip 6 runs on the energy supplied to it by power supply/user interface 8.
Power supply/user interface 8 is connected to interface cable 10. As discussed below, interface cable 10 can be connected by the user to a terminal to allow the user to access shoe usage data.
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Interface connector 14 is connected to an interface port 16 so that shoe usage data from microchip 6 may be transmitted to terminal 18. Interface connector 14 and interface port 16 are preferably a USB connector and a USB port, respectively, but may also be any type of interface means known in the art of computer hardware. Terminal 18 is preferably a personal computer but may also be any type of data processing and displaying means including, but not limited to, handheld devices, for example, personal data assistants and BlackBerry devices. Software loaded onto terminal 18 allows users to download, store and review shoe usage data. Users can compare current shoe usage to maximum useful life to determine if shoe replacement is necessary. Alternatively, the software can compare shoe usage to maximum useful life automatically for the user upon completion of download and then alert the user when replacement is necessary. Furthermore, users can keep track of variables related to shoe usage, for example, mileage and force exerted, in order to learn about personal habits and progress related to training.
Use of intelligent sneaker insole 20 is simple. As shown in
In describing exemplary embodiments, specific terminology is employed for the sake of clarity in this disclosure. The disclosure of this patent specification, however, is not intended to be limited to the specific terminology so selected and it is to be understood that each specific element includes all technical equivalents that operate in a similar manner.
In addition, the above specific embodiments are illustrative, and many variations can be introduced on these embodiments without departing from the spirit of the disclosure or from the scope of the appended claims. For example, elements and/or features of different illustrative embodiments may be combined with each other and/or substituted for each other within the scope of this disclosure and appended claims.