An Australian computer scientist has developed the world's first shoe phone, and has even published detailed step-by-step instructions online.
According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, Paul Gardner-Stephen, the inventor, insists there are practical applications of this phone, including, helping the elderly.
AdvertisementGardner-Stephen, a post-doctoral fellow in bioinformatics at Adelaide's Flinders University, made the gadget as a prop for a church camp drama presentation that had a "Get Smart" theme.
But after scouring the web and discovering that no one had created a shoe phone that was fully functional as a phone and could also be worn as a shoe, Gardner-Stephen set himself the challenge.
The first iteration, made in October last year, was simply a Bluetooth headset embedded in the sole of a shoe. The wearer still had to carry a mobile phone in his or her pocket.
Then, in December, Gardner-Stephen refined his design and, with the help of a cobbler friend, embedded a Motorola V620 in one shoe and a Bluetooth headset in the other.
The cobbler crafted hollow heels with a hatch that could fit the phone and headset.
"It's surprising, your first thought is it's completely impractical, but it's actually not that bad. The phone rings, you slip off the shoe, you open the heel and press the button and you're talking in around the same time it would take to fumble in a bag and pull the phone out," said Gardner-Stephen.
Gardner-Stephen quickly discovered that the concept could be applied to caring for the elderly and remote patient monitoring.
He said that storing electronics in a shoe would be unobtrusive and wouldn't be objectionable to older people who aren't comfortable with modern technology.
The shoe could hold equipment used to store and communicate pulse, blood pressure, blood oxygenation and other information.
It could also be used in nursing homes whereby the shoe could detect a fall and automatically place a call to a medical carer over a speaker phone.
"Shoes are well accepted by most people, and are simple to put on and take off," Gardner-Stephen said.
He said that, given the immense online interest, he might begin selling the shoe phones this year through online stores.
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