Chip-and-lawsuit designer Qualcomm has drawn up a patent on blueprints for an internet-connected shoe.
The semiconductor firm has filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for something it simply calls "Internet of Shoes."
The abstract of the application describes it as:
A connected shoe apparatus, comprising: a processor; a memory coupled to the processor; a radio; an antenna; and a magnetometer, wherein the connected shoe apparatus is wearable as a shoe by a user, and wherein the processor is to: determine the direction the connected shoe apparatus is facing with the magnetometer, and transmit information associated with the direction to a second device via the radio and the antenna.
The filing, lodged with the USPTO in 2015 and published Thursday, goes on to describe the internet shoes as having motors to "provide tactile navigation" and an on-board battery that could be recharged by piezoelectric motors when walking.
The described device would in theory provide functionalities beyond those offered today by in-shoe devices like the Nike+, which places a small sensor in the shoe that connects to the wearer's smartphone.
Qualcomm sees the shoes not only logging steps and helping navigation, but also monitoring the user's gait, using the vibration motors to tell users when they should speed up their pace, and tracking both blood pressure and heart rate.
Lest you think we're merely having a laugh at the "internet of shoes" label, it should be pointed out that the device described would likely have a great appeal in a wearables market that is expected by analysts to ship more than 210 million devices by 2020.
Don't go clearing out closet space just yet, though. A patent application is a long way from a retail-ready product, and even if Qualcomm wins the patent, there is no guarantee it would ever lead to an actual pair of smart shoes. ®