eSoles, an Arizona-based company working to improve the world's comfort, is the first to bring digital imaging technology straight to the consumer in a product CEO Glen Hinshaw compares to Apple's iTunes.
The 3D TruCapture Kiosk Scanning System allows customers to receive a 3-D image of their foot, which they can then use to buy the insole that is right for them. The machine, which only takes about two to three minutes to operate, uses a bio-dynamic air pillow for accuracy, touch-screen monitor, pressure mat, air bladder foot receiver and a white light 3-D image scanner, according to Hinshaw.
"It asks a series to questions about gender and the types of activities you participate in," Hinshaw says. "It maps both feet on both a weight- and non-weight-bearing scale."
Customers can then opt to purchase eSoles' eFit semi-custom footbeds in the store for about $70 or they can send their digital image through the kiosk to eSoles' home office. There they will build ePro custom footbeds which are designed specifically for that customer's feet. That option costs $250 and the insole is received by the customer within a week.
Hinshaw says every image stored in the 3-D TruCapture Kiosk Scanning System is saved, so customers needing new insoles or insoles for different pairs of shoes can access their information with the push of a button.
"Knowledge and research has shown you don't need to scan your foot again, unless you have suffered an injury. It's very similar to the experience you would get buying music on iTunes," he says. "With the eFit and the ePro, consumers have the choice of the ultimate semi-custom or custom foot support tailored to their budgets and needs."
According to Hinshaw, a world champion cyclist who competed in the Tour de France with the U.S. Postal Service Masters Cycling Team, several top Olympic and professional athletes wear eSoles' ePro custom footbeds. Among them are pro golfers, hockey players and Arizona Cardinals Linebacker Karlos Dansby.
"We were built by pro athletes, so we kind of have a high standard," Hinshaw says.
The first kiosk is located in The Cycle Loft, a Burlington, MA bicycle shop, and more are expected to be shipped out throughout the year.
"Over the last 15 years I've tried so many different footbeds looking for that one that would consistently improve my cycling comfort and performance, but all proved disappointing in one way or another," says Jeff Palter, president of The Cycle Loft. "When I first saw the eSoles kiosk ... I knew this was it, I simply had to have this machine in my store."
Hinshaw and his team started digital imaging in early 2004 and brought their first product to the public in 2005, under the name Foot Fitting. The technology was similar, except it was not self-serve. The company relaunched in 2006 as eSoles.
The self-serve machine, which is still used in about 40 locations throughout the U.S., is a 24 x 18-inch box with the air bladder sitting on top. A laptop computer records the image of the foot. "It is placed in strategic locations based on qualified, trained people who can run it," says Hinshaw.
He says the idea for the kiosk was developed because he was constantly having trouble finding good insoles. "We couldn't get the product repeated, so we invented it," he says.