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E-Ink Sneakers Provide Customizable Fashion for Sneakerheads

Could we finally be entering the era of digitized, fully customizable fashion? If a project called ShiftWear raising $928,777 on Indiegogo—3092% of the goal—is any indication, people are seeing new creative possibilities in the surface of shoes, and flexible e-paper technology has finally caught up with the robust demands of the sneakerhead's gait and lifestyle.

ShiftWear shoes integrate a networked app wearers can use to change the sneakers' displays. They will then be able to buy and sell designs from each other on a networked app – and keep 70% of the cash themselves.

Though such focus on a resource-intensive new feature often cause designers to neglect other, more traditional basics of a product's functionality, such as comfort or durability, the founders of ShiftWear have taken pains to point out that the shoes will also be quite practical. Less tech-centric features include waterproof Kevlar-coated soles, machine-washability, and bespoke sizes that are measured by your foot size rather than shoe size. The shoes will feature three classic basketball and skate-inspired designs, dubbed the L1, M1 and H1.

ShiftWear has also pointed out how natural and paper-like the designs look (unless you turn on the backlight), something that runs counter to the usual progression that display manufacturers try to make toward the brighter and the more striking.

After reaching several stretch goals, the developers will be able to add several features, including color screens and designs, motion sensors that will change the design based on your movements, and a battery that recharges kinetically with your footsteps. All of these features are likely to make it into the final product thanks to the existence of investors outside Indiegogo that can fill any gaps in funding.

Though the campaign was funded in December, ShiftWear still has some work ahead of it for actually getting the product into people's hands, and they hope to have a prototype available this spring, with the resulting business partnerships fueling more investment and designs featuring entertainment, sports and footwear brands. They hope for the shoes to ship this autumn, and thereafter they will retail from $349-$499.

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