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These Smart Insoles Add GPS Navigation to Your Shoes

By: Kraig Becker - January 19, 2017

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Awhile back, we took a look at The Navigator hiking boots from Hi Tec, which included smart insoles from Lechal that connected to your mobile device to provide GPS navigation. At the time, we found the concept to be a good one, although in practice it didn't always work quite as cleanly as we would have liked. Still, the idea of using haptic feedback to help us navigate our way through a foreign city was intriguing, and we hoped that the technology would improve and mature in future iterations. Now, Lechal is making that technology available to the masses by offering the insoles as a standalone product, and turning any pair of shoes into smart footwear as a result. 

The insoles – which are available from Amazon for $149.99 – are designed to slip into any shoe and provide the same functionality that the Hi Tec Navigators offered. That includes pairing with a smartphone via Bluetooth technology and using a specially designed app to help you find your way from Point A to Point B. Along the way, the insoles will offer navigational cues as you walk, using a series of different vibrations in the left or right shoe to indicate when you need to make the appropriate turn.

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Reportedly, Lechal's navigation system works even when you're offline, which means you can call up the directions while on WiFi and set off on your way even in places where you don't have a cell phone connection. This is especially handy when traveling internationally, where a wireless connection at a hotel or coffee shop is becoming increasingly common, but a data feed to our smartphones often remains prohibitively expensive. Battery life is said to be 15 days between charges too, so you won't have to worry about having to recharge the insoles every night in the same way that most smartwatches do.

These new smart insoles pack a few new features that we hadn't seen in the Navigator boots as well. For instance, Lechal says that they'll track the number of steps you take just like a Fitbit or other fitness tracker, and can even calculate distance traveled, calories burned, and other important data too. That information can be shared with Google Fit or Apple's Health app to keep track of your progress towards fitness goals over time, which should prove useful in achieving longterm goals.

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The insoles can be trimmed down to fit nearly any type of shoe, from trail runners to wingtips. This level of versatility allows you to switch them between different footwear as needed, and most people probably won't even realize that you are wearing them. This allows you to use your fitness tracker in nearly any setting, which isn't always the case with a smartwatch either. 

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As a tool to help you find your way around and potetially become more fit, Lechal's insoles have a lot of potential. Hopefully the company has worked out some of the navigation issues that we saw in our initial review several months back, because this type of technology could have a dramatic impact on our lives.

Find out more at Lechal.com

 

About the Author

Kraig Becker

Kraig Becker

Kraig Becker is news editor for the Gear Institute. Email him at news@gearinstitute.com or follow him on Twitter at @kungfujedi

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