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Smart Shoes Backed by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KRX) to Replace Personal Trainers?

Samsung IOFIT Smart Shoe

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s (KRX:005930) Galaxy smartphones have been giving the iPhone a run for its money, and now smart shoes created by a Samsung in-house startup are set to take on personal trainers. Samsung startup Salted Venture will officially unveil a new smart shoe called the IOFIT at the Mobile World Congress next week in Barcelona. Pressure sensors embedded in each shoe will measure things such as weight distribution, balance and posture, providing real-time data like the level of force the wearer uses on each part of the foot.

Samsung IOFIT Smart Shoe

The data gathered by the shoe can be streamed to a smartphone or tablet app. Users can also sync up the data with video footage of their performance to get a bigger picture of their movements.

Users will have the option to either view their results in real time so they can adjust their routine or technique on the fly, or they can complete their workout and check out the analysis and suggestions later.

This information can be used to determine weight shift, center of gravity and other useful metrics for athletes. As wearable technology such as these shoes, the Fitbit, and the Apple Watch along with their corresponding apps become more advanced, personal trainers who traditionally provide some of these services could take a hit.

Smart shoes aimed at general fitness market

While the IOFIT is not the first shoe with some smart features to hit the market, most of the existing ones are aimed at runners. The IOFIT is made for the overall fitness market, which is much broader and has a much bigger potential customer base.

A second version of the shoe will be released specifically to meet the needs of golfers. After all, foot placement is a vital component of the golf swing. These shoes will also feature an Oxford-style design.

The IOFIT team said it was inspired by force plates, which are used by fitness, golf and rehab facilities to measure people’s athletic performance.

Salted Venture CEO Jacob Cho said that the valuable information that can come from our feet is being largely wasted.

“Balance is an essential aspect of all fitness workouts and golf swing mechanism. Without it, there is greater exposure to injury and wasteful energy consumption, making fitness workouts a lot less effective and [more] dangerous,” he said.

He added that balance is crucial in golf and explained how getting it right can reap big benefits. “For golf, proper balance and weight shift is crucial to generate club head speed and power. We wanted to solve this problem not just with our guts, but with actual data telling us how we are performing.”

IOFIT grew out of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s C-Lab

Salted Venture was launched by Samsung along with two other in-house startups that grew out of C-Lab, a program that helps Samsung employees turn ideas into new businesses.

A Salted Venture spokesperson told VentureBeat that pre-orders of the shoes will be available through a crowdfunding campaign some time this summer. The general fitness shoes will be sold for $149, while the golf version will cost $199. Other versions created for different sports could eventually be released.

The firm said it designed its shoes to be stylish enough that users would feel proud to wear them in public. In addition, Salted Venture is talking to other shoe brands about using its technology, enabling consumers to buy their favorite brand and still take advantage of the smart features.

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