Following in your footsteps: SmartSoles bring GPS to heel

Chris Davies - Jul 18, 2014, 8:35am CDT
Following in your footsteps: SmartSoles bring GPS to heel

The tech world isn’t short of ways to track you, but if you’re yet to embrace wearables and don’t have a smartphone, it’s still possible to fall off the grid. GTX is targeting the elderly, young children, and potential kidnapping victims traveling to unstable countries with its GPS SmartSole, a waterproof insole that hides wireless tracking technology under your heel.

Embedded in the foam insert is a quadband cellular modem with a preloaded SIM that will work anywhere in the world, along with a GPS radio and a rechargeable battery. The whole thing is sealed, making it waterproof; GTX tells me you can walk through a river and not worry about the SmartSole malfunctioning.

Server-side, it’s a maps-based geofencing system. You can log in via any browser or through the SmartSoles smartphone app, and see the latest position recorded; alternatively, after you set boundaries around “safe zones” you can get a push notification or an SMS when the wearer strays beyond them.

GPS SmartSole

GTX started out putting GPS tracking systems in shoes, but ran into an unexpected fashion problem. With just two color options and a range of sizes, would-be buyers kept asking for different styles and finishes, which would have quickly led to stock issues.

An insole bypasses all that. In fact, GTX has just three versions of the SmartSole, covering a range of sizes, and like a regular insole they can be trimmed to fit different shoes. Their discretion serves another purpose, too, since they don’t single out the wearer: that’s important if you’re trying to get an elderly person or autistic child not to ditch the tracker, and if you’re hoping kidnappers don’t spot your executive is still pinging the server with their location.

GPS SmartSole

It’s not quite fit and forget, however. Right now, the insole uses a standard Qi charger, and so needs to be removed from the shoe itself and placed on the pad to recharge. With its default 5-10 minute location ping, GTX says a full battery should last around five days; the ping rate is customizable, though obviously that will have an impact on how long the SmartSole will run.

No insole lasts forever, of course, and while the SmartSole’s wireless hardware is resilient, the housing itself is expected to survive 12-18 months of daily wear. At $299 for a pair, then, plus monthly service plans ranging from $10 to $30, they’re probably not going to find their way into every shoe. If you’ve got a recalcitrant relative, an high-level executive going to a dangerous country, or a child prone to running away, though, that could be a small price to pay for safety.

MORE GPS SmartSole

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