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Software is eating shoes

Geschreven op vrijdag 6 januari 2017 in de categorie trends


(Gepubliceerd op Medium op 19/4/2015. Hier geherpubliceerd ter backup.)

Software is eating the world. Every single thing around us is moving from analog to digital — even the solid goods and products in our life.

I am convinced that shoes will become software.

All elements to make that statement come true are already in place, or frantically being developed. Like William Gibson said: the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.

I’ll try and describe the different pieces of the shoe-software puzzle.

1. Scan your feet for perfect fit

You will not have to leave the house to make sure you get the perfect fitted pair of shoes. We will be able to scan our feet ourselves.

Shoefitr is doing this in the opposite direction for the moment — it scans all available shoes en uses that information to recommend the right pair of shoes to customers. Amazon (owner of shoe-seller Zappos) recently bought Shoefitr.

Volumental is experimenting with 3D-scanning of your feet with your mobile device. Based on that personalised scan they’re selling shoes made-to-measure.


2. Design your own personalised shoes

Something that is already common practise with NIKEiD and Converse.

You’re lacking the time/inclination/inspiration to make your own design? You can download one of the design that are being open source by people like you (like what is happening on Thingiverse).

Or you can buy and download a design patter from a famous designer or brand. Maybe you could even scan the pattern you saw that celibrity wearing on tv and use it?

3. 3D-print your personalised shoes

Already some parts of shoes are being made with additive manufacturing. It will not take long until entire shoes can be 3D-printed.

The materials used in 3D-printing are not just hard plastics and metals anymore. Experiments with other materials are being conducted — in order to make teddybears and clothing.

By using a different production process for shoes, designers are no longer bound by the classic shapes. Artists and fashion designers are already experimenting with different shaped shoes:

Architect Zaha Hadid for United Nude

Because the shoes are 3D-printed piece by piece based on your personal scans, they are uniquely fitted for you.

Goodbye to shoes as a mass product.

4. Deliver the shoes on demand

Every e-commerce player, Amazon, and even Google are delivering as fast as they can. This is evolving into same-day delivery.

Uber is planning on using its army of drivers to deliver packages almost instantly (in 10 minutes or less). Amazon is experimenting with drone-delivery; it evens wants to start delivering before you even order.

Maybe shoes will even be 3D-printed on their way to the customer, right in the delivery truck.

One can imagine an app to buy shoes that are almost instantly made to measure and delivered.

Combine this with a future fleet of selfdriving cars — if we want to buy things they will immediately come to us.

One of the main advantages of a retail store over webshops, namely instant gratification, is disappearing swiftly.

The combination of all this is pure software.

Scan, print, order, deliver: completely autonomous and driven by software. You will need to provide a seriously astonishing retail experience to get me back into a shoe store.


If you had asked people roughly 10 years ago what kind of products they would be comfortable buying in webshops, they would have answered: books, cd’s yes, but definitely no shoes because I want to be able to choose and fit them.

Meanwhile, Zalando is showing a year-on-year turnover growth

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