Low-cost airline EasyJet has introduced smart shoes, dubbed the Sneakairs, that can guide the lost traveller and relieve them from constantly having to stare at their smartphone maps app.
The shoes, which come in EasyJet’s trademark orange, are fitted with a miniaturised Arduino clone, a low-energy Bluetooth transmitter and a vibration motor, all placed in an ergonomic 3D-printed casing inside the shoes’ soles.
The Bluetooth transmitter connects the shoes with a smartphone app, which uses Google Maps and Google Maps direction APIs as the basis of its own pedestrian navigator. The app can run in the background, which means that the user can put his or her phone away and enjoy the city without having to constantly stare at the phone screen for directions. All the hardware used in the device is open source.
The shoes give the wearer signals via vibrations: a vibration of the left or right shoe means the traveller needs to turn left or right, while two consecutive vibrations on both shoes mean that the user has missed their turn. Three vibrations signal that the wearer has reached their destination.
The first European city that can be explored with the help of the Sneakairs is Spain’s avant-garde metropolis Barcelona, where the smart shoes have been launched as part of the Barcelona Street Project.
EasyJet envisions passengers in future will be able to purchase the shoes on board the firm's planes.
EasyJet has increasingly been pushing to introduce quirky innovative technologies. To celebrate its 20th birthday last year, it launched a line of cabin crew uniforms fitted with wearable technology.
The airline’s Mobile Host app received the Future Travel Experience Award this year for the Best Passenger Assistance Initiative. It guides EasyJet’s passengers as they make their way through the airport, providing information on gate numbers, time changes and luggage belts.
The airline is also trialling drones to assist with aircraft inspections between flights.