Wearable Tech World Feature Article
October 07, 2014

The Internet of Things has a Walking Lane with Universole

One of the great things about a new technology is that there is a rapidly increasing number of applications and new systems that put such technology to work. While some of it doesn't quite pan out the way some had hoped, some of it becomes the new standards that people use every day. One new development that hopes to make it to the “household staple” level comes from the Universole, a concept that looks to use the Internet of Things (IoT) as part of a workout regimen.

The Universole—product of Rhode Island entrepreneurs Kyle McQueeney and Daniel Xavier—puts fitness tracking systems not on the wrist, but rather, on the feet by allowing the device to track and measure foot pressure. This unusual measurement system allows the Universole to not only conclusively track the number of steps taken, but also get a better understanding of how the foot moves, and potentially even identify certain issues of movement, allowing the user to better address these issues.

For instance, one of the duo involved in Universole's creation reportedly had the issue of flat feet, and wanted a better idea of how weight was distributed on his feet. Universole was designed specifically to address issues like that, and from there, algorithms could be used to track the data points found in the pressure put on the device.

But Universole is no shrinking violet; it's also designed to fit easily into any shoe, and from there also be able to withstand the various elements thrown at it, from water slopping over into the shoe to the power of foot sweat. Moreover, the folks behind Universole point out several key advantages to using the foot as a venue for fitness tracking. There's a larger amount of surface area—“real estate” as the makers put it—involved on the foot than on the wrist, which means more monitoring technologies overall can be brought in, and since Universole is an insole insert, it can be removed and replaced as needed with no real regard for trends in fashion.

Essentially, this is one piece of wearable tech that doesn't need to be concerned about aesthetics, and that's a development that's been giving plenty of other wearable tech makers cause for concern in recent months. Plus, being connected to the feet means a higher overall level of accuracy when it comes to fitness tracking. The Universole is currently running a Kickstarter program to get put into play, and right now is at just $420 of its $75,000 goal, and it will take a $200 pledge to get in on the Universole action.

Universoles represent something of a brilliant idea; while it's not exactly the first time we've heard of a fitness tracker that goes near the feet—back in February, the Flyfit emerged to offer an activity tracker meant to be fastened on the leg, tracking leg movement instead of arm movement—but this may be the first time that we've seen a fitness tracker that goes directly on the foot itself. That's an innovative idea, and these days, innovation is at something of a premium when it comes to comparatively new technology like this. While fitness trackers may be having a tough time against smartwatches in general, a fitness tracker like this may well survive that onslaught thanks to its form factor. Only time will tell just how well it does, but this may well have what it takes.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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