In this issue's cover story "Engineering Feat,"
a team of engineers at Adidas figured out how to integrate a microcontroller, motor and lead screw, and Hall effect sensor into the sole of a high-performance running shoe. These components work together to automatically maintain the desired level of cushioning in the midsole of the Adidas 1, adjusting it on the fly for greater running comfort.
However, as someone with clear back-of-the-pack status at the local 10K races here in Boston, I can say with confidence that comfort and running are pretty much mutually exclusive experiences in my life.
And every woman on the planet knows that, when it comes to footwear, ordinary old running shoes already rank fairly high on the footwear comfort scale. That's why so many of us change into sneakers to commute to and from the office. We sometimes even wear them in the office.
Even though the Adidas 1 is an amazing display of product engineering, what these guys really need to figure out how to do is integrate their patented cushioning technology into a good-looking shoe for women.
That's going to be challenging since the general rule in footwear for females is that good-looking is inversely proportional to the amount of surface area of the shoe that actually touches the ground. That's why most comfortable shoes look like something a podiatrist—or worse yet, a bunion surgeon—would recommend.
I've pretty much spent my entire adult life trying to find this Holy Grail of shoes, regardless of how biomechanially or orthopedically unsound they may be. I can't tell you how often I have shredded, blistered, calloused, and pinched my feet in the name of style. The big toe on my left foot may be permanently numb.
In fact, I own so many pairs of high-heeled, pointy-toed, barely worn shoes that I've started to wonder why people thought Imelda was so out of control. I mean she only had about 300 pairs, right?
My point is: There's real money to be made here. Packing all that stuff into a stiletto heel isn't going to be easy. And I can't even imagine how the thermal issue is going to be dealt with if it turns out to be a problem. But women will be thronging to their local shoe stores to snap these shoes up—right along with those nylons that don't run.