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I'm a high school student and for an engineering capstone project, my partner and I are considering creating a device that will be able to detect if a shoe is worn out. We believe this will help to prevent injuries caused by running in dangerously worn out shoes (I actually got a stress fracture last track season and I think worn out shoes contributed to this).
What do you all think? We'd love some feedback, either in this thread or through our survey: http://bit.ly/1hnfQ0f
I'd hate to squelch creativity but these are my initial thoughts.
For the newbie runner this might be a good product.
But for a runner with some experience --- we are wearing shoes which are typically the same model, or new model in the shoe family. We know the mileage we have oneach pair of shoes, and know when the time comes to swap them out.
What will you be measuring to determine wear? Midsole compliance would probably be best but how would you measure that "on the go"? Most experienced runners keep track of the miles on each pair of shoes and know how many miles they can expect from a particular pair. So anything you invent would have to do a better job than that.
It's an excellent idea. I'm thinking you're thinking it might be something like a wear bar on a car tire: When the tread gets down to the bar then you know it's time to get a new set of tires.
The advantage of the car tire system is that car tires (are supposed to) wear evenly across the tread. That's not the case with running shoes. In fact - different runners have different run patterns. Additionally - kind of leveraging off of the previous replies - what might be worn out for one runner may be fine for another. Lastly, if something is built into the sole then you need to get agreement from the shoe companies to change their manufacturing processes.
I hope the following isn't too much of an idea - but it's a brainstorm I had:
I've heard it said that one indicator of wear is the "crushing" of the midsole. You've probably seen it: the mid-sole gets these rumples in it. It gets crushed.
I wonder if you could sell something like a little card and, when someone gets a new pair of shoes, they put the card on the surface the shoe is on and they mark on the card where the midsole meets the upper. Over time that point where the midsole/upper meet will get lower as the midsole gets crushed. Then when someone holds the marked card up to the worn shoe they'll see how much that boundary has gone down relative to where it was new. The challenge will be 1) figuring out what amount of "drop" might be considered the replacement point and 2) marking the card somehow so it's easy to tell when that replacement point is reached.
Then you're not dependent on shoe manufacturers. Any shoe can be used with it. And it's an accessory for running stores to sell - which I assume they love.
"Kick off your high heel sneakers, it's party time."
-- From the song FM by Steely Dan
Thanks for the feedback!
So, it appears that most experienced runners are fine without such a product, but it could be useful for newbies. I do like the card idea, as the premise is pretty similar to our original one -- sell an accessory that can be used independent of shoe manufacturers. By making it an accessory, we would also be more flexible in our target market. It wouldn't be too much of an additional purchase for new runners who want it, and then experienced runners who don't need it can just ignore it.