Google Talking Shoe Concept At SXSW: Yet Another Reason To Avoid Exercising

By Sean Kane , Mar 10, 2013 09:27 AM EDT

Google's looking to cover your body with more than just Google Glass.

The company unveiled its concept for a "talking shoe," at its SXSW Interactive headquarters. The shoe is part of "Art, Copy, Code," itself part of Google's initiative to reimagine mobile advertising. The project seeks to integrate social app experiences into daily life. For example, Google partnered with VW to make "Volkswagen Smileage," a social road trip app, which includes the ability to "punch" other Volkswagen drivers with the app when you pass them.

"It's explicitly aimed at translating how Silicon Valley thinks about technology into how creative agencies think about advertising," Aman Govil, the leader of the project, told TechCrunch.

But Google's apparent attempt to woo shoe companies comes in the form of a snarky, trash talking basketball sneaker. An Arduino-like device is strapped onto the laces of the shoe, complete with an accelerometer, gyroscope, a speaker, and Bluetooth to connect to a phone. Pressure sensors are built into the bottom of the shoe. The shoe speaks words of encouragement (or mockery) at the user, depending on collected data. If you stop moving, the shoe will comment. Pick up the pace and the shoe will give you feedback.

Google has also built in different personalities into the shoes. An athletic shoe will encourage running and moving around. A lazy shoe will not. This is just a Google concept. The company is not going into the shoe business. Instead, this Google shoe is just one example of an application for "Art, Copy, Code."

Govil imagines other applications for the project, like an alarm clock that notifies your coworkers if you've hit the snooze button too many times. Why anyone would green light a project like that is unfathomable.

Will a snarky shoe make our experience with mobile ads any better? It's hard to say. In fact, if I had a quippy peanut gallery strapped to my feet whenever I exercised, I might just stay on the couch.

What do you think about Google's odd shoe concept? Let us know in the comments!

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