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Martin Frey. interaction and interface designer
CabBoots - Shoes with Integrated Guidance System

CabBoots is a concept for an innovative interface with a pedestrian navigation system. The information transmission process can be perceived tactilely, is intuitively understandable, and is applied to the part of the body most directly involved in the act of walking: the foot. The applied communications metaphor is familiar to all; it's something that everyone who's ever walked along a well-trodden path is aware of. It functions astoundingly well in this new application.

Starting Point

Conventional navigational devices normally communicate with the user on the acoustic and visual levels. CabBoots pursues a more intuitive mode of information delivery: the feedback is tactilely perceptible. Here, CabBoots utilizes the faculty of kinesthetic perception present in the entire foot and ankle, and thus takes advantage of a simple principle that everyone absorbs as part of the process of learning to walk.

"Walking on a Path"

Paths on a natural surface, for instance - usually have a concave cross-section. When you walk along such a well-trodden path, your feet come down on a flat surface only right in the middle of the trail. Veering over to the edge ofthe path, they land on a slight outward slope that causes the ankle to be angulated slightly. While walking, the body registers this angulation and intuitively compensates by steering back towards the middle. This actually allows you to walk the path "blind".

Virtual Topography

Electromechanical elements in the sole of the CabBoots can produce an artificial angulation of the shoes and, thereby, of the foot. The resulting oblique posture ofthe foot is difficult to distinguish from the real thing. Individual and virtual paths can thus be communicated via the shoe. Tests with a prototype have shown that the principle of walking a well-trodden path also functions on a virtually-generated topography. A decisive advantage accrues from the intuitive perception of the directions given: channels of communication like seeing and hearing are not involved and thus remain available to receive stimuli from other sources.

Future Work

In the initial prototype, tiny flaps were used to generate the path. In future models, it would be preferable to replace them with pneumatic activators or ones based on electrorheological fluids. The software to determine the wearer's position and calculate the subsequent path could run on a mobile device like a cell phone or PDA that can communicate wirelessly with the shoe. Needless to say, CabBoots could also be a great help to people with visual impairments.


Second Prototype

There is a second, advanced prototype of CabBoots. In this version the shoes host all necessary parts themselves: mechanics, electronics, power supply, rf link etc. The shoes can be strapped on any shoes at a certain size range and are connected wirelessly to a computer (or PDA, mobile phone etc.) via bluetooth.

CabBoots - Prototype2

The shoes were presented for the first time at ARS Electronica Festival 2006.

Reports, Publications (Selection)
kulturzeit-2006_55x39.jpgkulturzeit, 3sat | There was a short coverage about ARS Electronica Festival 2006 in the german, austrian, swiss tv journal "kulturzeit" on channel 3sat, including CabBoots. [Tue 5. Sep '06] kulturzeit, 3satmovie kulturzeit, 3sat from 5th sep '06movie kulturzeit, 3sat (CabBoots Part)
zib3-2006_55x39.jpgZiB3, ORF2 | ARS Electronica Festival 2006 in the austrian news magazine "ZiB3", on channel ORF2... including a short interview about CabBoots. [Fri 1. Sep '06] ZiB3, ORF2
radioeins-2006_55x39.jpgSonntagsfahrer, radioeins rbb | Interview about CabBoots in the pupular german radio station radioeins rbb. [Sun 1. Oct '06] Sonntagsfahrer, radioeins rbb       Sonntagsfahrer, radioeins rbb Cabboots at Sonntagsfahrer
swr2-2006_55x39.jpgWelt am Draht, SWR2 | Radio coverage about the award "digital sparks" and CabBoots. [Mon 3. Jul '06] Welt am Draht, SWR2       Welt am Draht, SWR2 CabBoots section
NextMagazine-2007_55x39.jpgNextMagazine | The Chinese NextMagazine reports about CabBoots [Sun 25. Mar '07] NextMagazine
simplicity-catalogue-2006_55x39.jpgSimplicity - Ars Electronica Festival 2006 | The exhibition catalogue of Ars Electronica Festival 2006 - Simplicity - includes a description of CabBoots in english and german. [Fri 1. Sep '06] Simplicity - Ars Electronica Festival 2006pdf Simplicity - Ars Electronica Festival 2006 exhibition catalogue of Ars Electronica Festival 2006
react-catalogue-2005_55x39.jpgRE/ACT '05 | There is a short description (english/german) of CabBoots in the exhibition catalogue of RE/ACT '05. [Mon 12. Dec '05] RE/ACT '05pdf RE/ACT '05 exhibition catalogue of RE/ACT '05
gizmodo_55x22.jpggizmodo.com | Interview about me and my projects for GIZMODO Gallery made by Jonah Brucker-Cohen [Wed 14. Feb '07]
netzspannung_55x22.jpgnetzspannung.org | CabBoots got an honorary mention at »digital sparks« award. You can read about the project, the profs and the jurys statement on netzspannung.org. [Fri 12. May '06]
wmmna_55x22.jpgWe-Make-Money-Not-Art.com | Blogentry about CabBoots after the first presentation. [Mon 3. Oct '05]
Video (5 Min)
TTA '06 Winner
Europrix Top Talents Award 2006 Winner - Category Mobile Contents / Sat 25. Nov '06 / Vienna, Austria
Digital Sparks '06
Honorary Mention at Digital Sparks 2006 / Mon 1. May '06 / Karlsruhe, Germany
CabBoots at TEI '07
Exhibition and Presentation at "TEI '07 - First International Conference on Tangible and Embedded Interaction", Sheraton Convention Center Hotel, Baton Rouge, USA / Thu 15. Feb - Sat 17. Feb '07 / Baton Rouge, Luisiana, USA
CabBoots at design.digital
Exhibition at "design.digital", FH Wuerzburg-Schweinfurt, Faculty Design, Wuerzburg, Germany / Thu 11. Jan '07 / Wuerzburg, Germany
CabBoots at EUROPRIX Top Talent Festival '06
EUROPRIX Top Talent Festival '06 / Fri 24. Nov - Sun 26. Nov '06 / Vienna, Austria
CabBoots at Ars Electronica Festival 2006
Festival for Art, Technology and Society / Thu 31. Aug - Tue 5. Sep '06 / Linz, Austria
CabBoots/CabTrails at designmai '06
designmai '06 / designtransfer Galerie / Thu 18. May - Sun 21. May '06 / Berlin, Germany
CabBoots at REALITY CHECK/ transmediale.06
REALITY CHECK @ c-base/ partner event transemdiale.06 / Wed 1. Feb - Mon 6. Feb '06 / c-base, Berlin, Germany
CabBoots at RE/ACT '05
RE/ACT 2005, halle_02, Heidelberg / Fri 2. Dec - Sun 4. Dec '05 / Heidelberg, Germany
CabBoots/SnOil at UdK Rundgang
Exhibition at UdK, Berlin / Fri 15. Jul - Sun 17. Jul '05 / Berlin, Germany
Blog Entries
Blog entries for the project CabBoots :
CabBoots.cn - gateway t...
CabBoots in Next Magazi...
design.digital @ FH Wü...
Invitation to TEI '07 C...
more (10)
CabBoots was developped on the theme "Free Project" in Summer Term 2005, Digital Media Class, Berlin University of the Arts. Thanks to: Jussi Ängeslevä, Prof. Joachim Sauter
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