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Also, check out Power Laces: Version 2.0

Why wait until 2015?

Inspired by 'Back to The Future II', this project is less 'Practical' than 'Proof of Concept', but hopefully it'll tide you over until Nike comes out with something more polished.

This was also the first time I worked with an Arduino microcontroller, and I wanted to get some experience with the little guy.

Operation is quite simple- step into the shoe and a force sensor reads the pressure of your foot and activates two servo motors, which apply tension to the laces, tightening the shoe. A touch switch reverses the servos.

Due to budget constraints, I only modified one shoe. Where did I put that darn sports almanac?!

And if you get a chance, vote for me in the Instructable USB contest!


 
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Step 1: Parts & Tools

Picture of Parts & Tools

Parts:

A shoe  // a hightop with a lot of padding and undersole seemed easiest to work with and modify

Arduino  // I used the Duemilanove

Motor shield // The kit from adafruit.com works great, and allows control of multiple types of motors

Force sensor // Also got this from adafruit.com

Servo Motors  // again, also from adafruit.com.  Gotta save on that shipping whenever you can!

Sheet metal // about 4" x 4", enough to keep it's shape but easily trimmed with shears

LED and a couple of resistors  //  I only had  1K's laying around, so that's what I used

9 Volt case, with built in battery clip and switch

Insulated copper wire // I used high and medium gauge

Plastic zip ties, various sizes  // I went through a lot of these

Plastic 1/2" cable loops  // used for organizing cables

1/8" braided nylon paracord  // 10' should be enough


Tools:

Just the basics- soldering iron, screwdrivers, etc.  A hot glue gun is handy, too.

Misc:

A USB A to B cable and a computer to load the Sketch to the Arduino.

Step 2: The Laces pt. 1



Cut six lengths of cord, each about 18" long.  Remove the inner core and save for future projects.

Fit the zip ties into the holes for the shoelaces on one side.  I fit in 5, leaving one space inbetween each zip tie.

Fit the shell of the cord over the zip tie.  Don't trim the end, as shown in one of the pictures.  Keep in long, as later the end of this will connect to the Servo.

I trimmed the "clipping part" off the zip tie, and then used a lighter to melt the cord down, giving it a cleaner appearance.  If you apply some quick heat to a 1/4" area at the end here, it will stiffen and prevent the it from coming out (that's what she said.)

Repeat for the other four.

Screw on the plastic loops and thread through on the other end.

Save the 6th length of outershell cord for later in the project.

Step 3: The Laces pt. 2

Picture of The Laces pt. 2
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The ankle strap is mounted pretty much the same way as the lower laces.  The ankle strap runs the opposite way of the other straps, to put some counter-force on the servos when they put the laces under tension.

I put a small martini shaker into the shoe to act as a foot analog, so I could make strap adjustments and such.  You want to be able to get your foot easily into the shoe, and visually the tightening laces look better if they have a lot of slack.

Step 4: Servo Mounting Plate

Picture of Servo Mounting Plate
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Trim the sheet metal to fit on the back of the shoe.  My pairs have a handy little rubber part at the back and I trimmed the metal to approximate the shape.

After sanding down any rough corners and edges, drill in some holes and use some flat bottomed screws to mount the plate to the shoe.  The two screws on the side actually to go into the shoe and are secured with screw nuts, but they're wide enough apart that I don't feel them when I put the shoe on.  The bottom screw just goes into the padding.

Leave a bit of a gap between the plate and the shoe for now, as later we're going to put some zip ties through to attach the servo motors.

Step 5: Construct the Motor Shield

Picture of Construct the Motor Shield
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The Motor Shield is an addon circuit board that enables the Arduino to control various motors, or Servos in this case.

The Shield comes as a kit from Adafruit.com, which has the building instructions along with software libraries that you will need to program and control the Servos.

Following the instructions on the site, solder the Motor Shield together and attach it to the Arduino via the header pins.

Step 6: Mount the Servos, Battery, and Arduino

Picture of Mount the Servos, Battery, and Arduino
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Zip ties are used to mount the various electronic components.

The motors were attached to the mounting plate first by using some rubber cement (optional) to keep them in place, and wrapping and tightening them as much as possible with the zip ties.

Note that most of the ties thread through the space between the mounting plate and the shoe.  As my zip ties weren't long enough in some areas, I combined two together.  After the servos were in place, I trimmed down the ties.

Beneath the motors, the battery case is mounted in much the same way, power switch outward.

Finally, the Arduino board can be attached.  The holes line up with zip ties on both side, and is held in place by screws attached to them.

Before attaching the Motor shield, some modifications must be made.

Step 7: Adding some electronics to the motor shield


Is your soldering iron still warm?  Time to add some of the bells and whistles.

As you can see in the pics, I tested the components and programing with a breadboard attached.  Since I've done the heavy lifting you can skip this part, but it doesn't hurt to double check before everything is set in place.

After the program is uploaded (posted at the end of the instrutable) we can permanently mount the parts.  First, we solder a resistor and to one pin of the LED and a length of wire to both pins.

That assembly is then pushed through an unused shoelace socket, and the wires are ran to the Arduino, using hot glue to keep everything in place and out of the way.  Make sure you know which of the wires goes to the positive pin of the LED!

The Force sensor is mounted next.  Soldering is not advised as the plastic may melt, so I wrapped some wire around the leads and hot glued them into place.  The sensor was then glued and duct taped into the bottom of the shoe, right where my heel would rest.

The wires, also glued and taped into place, go up the back of the shoe and to the Arduino.

Finally, after we grab another resistor and a bit of medium gauge wire, we can begin soldering everything into place:

1. The positive wire of the LED goes to digital pin 2.

2. One force sensor wire (doesn't matter which) is soldered to +5v.

3. The other force sensor wire goes to Analog Pin 0.

4. Also connected to Ana. Pin 0 is a resistor.  The other end of the resistor goes to Ground.

5. Also connect the negative LED pin to Ground.  

6. A four inch spiral wrap of wire is soldered to Analog Pin 5.  This is the touch switch- touching this wire firmly will cause the servo motors to move into the unlocked position.

7. Finally, plug in the servo motors, making sure to get the orientation right.  My Arduino sketch assumes the left (looking from the back) servo is plugged into the right most servo pin, though this can easily be changed in the software.

The electronics are finished!

Step 8: Connect the Laces to the Servos

Picture of Connect the Laces to the Servos
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Now we just have to connect the laces to the servos and the hardware portion of the project is finished.

This usually requires a lot of little adjustments to get it right- you want enough slack to get your foot comfortably in the shoe, but when it laces up you want it to be visually appealing.

I used zip ties to secure the laces, and attached them to the servo arms, making sure the servos are in the "unlaced" position.  The sketch will turn the servos 180 degrees from the starting point, tightening the laces.

Step 9: Upload the Arduino Sketch

Picture of Upload the Arduino Sketch
Plug the USB cable into the Arduino and the computer, and open the .pde sketch with the Arduino IDE.  Make sure you have download the motor shield libraries as detailed in it's instructions.

Click 'Upload' and within a few seconds it'll be transferred and the shoe is now ready for use!

Just a caveat, this is my first time working with the Arduino and programming in general, so I'm sure the sketch is nowhere near optimized and could use some fine tuning.  Feel free to play around with it!
cristoph1 month ago
All you need now is his self-drying jacket

so effing impressive! I can imagine this real world app for people with mobility problems or diabetes, where too much tension affects circulation in the feet. Kudos!!

jaksherry4 months ago

Great proof-of-concept idea. Obviously not practical, as you mentioned, but very cool.

XenonJohn6 months ago

Adidas are apparently bringing out trainers with self-tying laces later this year, 2015.

How about that.

Actually I think it is Nike that are doing this.

Snellingkorey6 months ago

great idea, but the little box at the back would put me off

What force sensor did you use, can you be specific or send me a link

plz send me ardino codes
davidbarcomb8 months ago

The circuit is too big, but this is really a great idea

danmellow11 months ago

this can be marketeable if you find a way to conceal the circuit

jameswraps1 year ago

can you do a tutorial on version 2.0 and will it work with the shoe you used for version 1, & what shoe did you use for version 1?

Would these shoes be comfortable, if so if you could rate it 1-10 before and after the modifications.

thank you

memcha1 year ago
Great project. Nice picture
Soccer3331 year ago
can u sell them to me plz
soccer1231 year ago
can u sell them to me plz
rmatos51 year ago
Put that on/in nike air mags
Chloe82 years ago
I love the color!
Any ideas where I can find these amazing nikes?! I am in love with them, but can't find them!
Cament2 years ago
I just see the version 2.0, and wow just shut up and take my money!!
Cobalt594 years ago
Incredible. To make it more compact, use an Arduino Nano or similar model. (Ardweeny)
A teensy!!!
Are there more models for being able to pick your favourite colours?
Crazyted3 years ago
Can u please post instructions on how to make the v2.0
AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ive been wanting to get a set of these all my life!!!!!
when i was older i loved experimenting with time machines
jimmytvf3 years ago
wow, wonderful. a better finish will be, puting a pic microcontroller and the servo in the sole, this way you cannot see all the stuff on the back, its ugly to see
blakebevin (author)  jimmytvf3 years ago
google Power Laces v2.0 ;)
jtroyetsky3 years ago
does arduino uno work?
jtroyetsky3 years ago
This inspired me to make my own version in the future with it built in to the shoe though ill post a pic when I'm done
baterman3 years ago
hey i saw the version 2 ill pay big bucks for those
klessy3 years ago
Hey, where's version 2?
ewhite fox3 years ago
GREAT SCOTT!!!!!!! i'll have 2 try it
mattglas4 years ago
Can you please help I can't find the Motor shield or the Servo Motors I looked at adafruit.com but no luck can you give me a link to them or tell me the names? Also where can I get the shoes
Servo motors can be found at any RC hobby shop. Pololu also carries servos.
i literally died laughing at the photo of the arduino and the airport caption you have quite the sense of humor haha
so...did you posses your computer?
yea my soul went into the computer and i'm processing like there's no tomorrow
eoutlaw4 years ago
Oh snap! Those are so cool. My brother loves Back to the Future, and I want to make these for him. I'll probably mess them up though and e-mail him this Instructable saying, "I tried." :-D Nice job!!!
tylerx744 years ago
give me a link to buy these shoes plz :)
Very interesting, I wouldn't want a pair though. Ever heard of velcro?
jdelgado14 years ago
I need a pair!!! xD
Coolshoe4 years ago
Do you have to use the motor shield
Your HOT!!!!
sammyrs20004 years ago
nice shoes
laserdude4 years ago
cool
Genius. absolute genius.
offdawall674 years ago
i'm a huge shoe fan and to see something this cool makes me wanna go and build this, I swear, the first time I saw Back to the Future, I was like "I want those shoes!", good job!
Allonsy4 years ago
the 2.0 is EPIC. nike has nothing on you. good luck!
finnrambo4 years ago
http://www.boatechnology.com/products found you a competitor, though that is a very good idea
Allonsy4 years ago
that. is AWESOME. find a way to make the tying thing smaller and you'll be rich.
flexoduss4 years ago
YOUR HOT :D
Pearsoned4 years ago
mattglas4 years ago
And where can I get the shoes I could not find them
mattglas4 years ago
Can you help me I can't find these parts
Motor shield

Force sensor

Servo Motors   
I looked on adafruit.com but no luck can you help me
mwayi4 years ago
its great to see such type of innovations it would really help the disabled i love that part as for children let them learn how tie shoes its part of exercise to bend their back and hands on the races.But is it not heavy now with all the gadgets behind it.By the way i really love the innovation part shows u are using ur brain wise i hope someday u will develop an amazing machine that will save this world.
all the best
MrHanimi4 years ago
Oh My Lord.
I almost cried when i saw the version 2.0 video
Where can i get these :')
see site title - instructables.  If you love it so much, why don't you marry it - err- I mean make it.
ohh.. is there one for the 2.0s ?
Actually, I didn't notice until afterwards, but he does want to market them: Back up to the top
Dr.Bill4 years ago
Velcro Works........... I'm just sayin'.
GMer564 years ago
Not like the sports almanac would do much good. Its only for 1950-2000 :(
Does the motor keep constant pressure on the laces, or does it tighten them and just relax?
Either way, I think it could be simpler, but that is just me: Do things as cheap as possible and make sure it looks good.
Step 7:
Do I see the Ubuntu Matrix screen saver? :D
Great stuff, My son and I are making BTTF II next halloween and we have to make these.
Yes! The sound is great!
roberthj4 years ago
Why did you use a motorshield? Why not only a arduino?
arduino? NERD POWER!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
blakebevin (author)  roberthj4 years ago
So it would be bigger and clunkier.
Haha :), im just wondering, im a beginner. Are going to buy all these parts and when i showed this project for my teacher he was wondering why i needed a motorshield, not just drive the servo with the arduino.
Very nice idea and concept ^^ I hope to buy one of your shoes someday when they come out in stores!

This is off topic but you're very pretty :] (and i mean it in a friendly way) XD
Wow this is a great idea and very creative. I love the project and i support u and the shoes all the way. How old r u by the way. Contact me or just talk to me
Gerrles4 years ago
can u put the instructables for this power laces version 2.0
macman8085 years ago
awesome instructable really cool, i have got the B.T.T.F triology and those shose look like the real thing. nice job and what style of shoe is that i know it's a nike but which one?
um no they dont uhh look again because they look nothing alike
ylpihs4 years ago
How long does the whole project take? Wanna do something similar to this as part of my Halloween costume. It will be so cool!
oh, just made a pledge on Kick Starter :) good luck with the development. James
WOW, love this. Was wondering if you would like some free sugru, thought it could help with your prototyping? :) Had seen this here a while back and just now on Kick Start, so so cool. Looking forward to this being a product. Hey, would you retro fit a customers trainers with the technology or sell a standard shoe with it fitted? Good luck. James
IM SO PUMPED FOR WHEN NIKE MAKES THIS!

BTTF4LIFE
blakebevin (author)  valoskater87454 years ago
Why wait? Check out Power-Laces.com That forwards to a kickstarter page where I'm trying to raise the funds to make it happen!
wow thanks I still need to find all the money i need but thats AWESOME!
coppeis4 years ago
How do you put all the hardware in the shoe?
Best be careful! I just ran into this on the web, but you're in violation of a patent. www.engadget.com/2010/08/26/nike-files-patent-for-auto-lacing-sneakers-marty-mcfly-doth-pro/ They filed this in '09, so just be careful.
blakebevin (author)  drpepper84124 years ago
Hehe, this is a completely different mechanism than described in the patent. Plus I'm not selling it, so I think I'm safe. I am planning on raising some money though to create a better version, and the mechanism I have in mind will be different, more efficient, and more flexible. Competition is a good thing ;)
Most definitely agreed! Can't wait to see the finished product. Hit me up if you need an investor ;)
blakebevin (author)  drpepper84124 years ago
Hehe, thanks! Speaking of... http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1230434124/power-laces
eulaliaaaa!4 years ago
Epic!
hamado4 years ago
rly nice idea it simplifies life to maximum(:
aeray5 years ago
Congrats! You made FOX News!
rafitf aeray4 years ago
an article on this was also published in an israeli newspaper
chrisre cat5 years ago
YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT BOA TECHNOLOGY.COM THE SHOES WOULD LOOK BETTER WITH THIS SYSTEM
PJPEEJ5 years ago
how much does the whole thing cost?
I just finishing making a pair, including buying a pair of nike dunks, and parts including shipping I paid $170
wow. lots of money
it was but the sneakers are pretty cool
you said that you could only make one because of budget... how much does making one cost?
170 says the mane on top....
Tomcat945 years ago
I just saw this on Attack of the Show! Very, very good job indeed!
Ghost Wolf5 years ago
could you use a lily pad arduino?
userhck5 years ago
Its interesting to note that in the actual movie they secured the shoes to a false floor of asphalt and someone just pulled the laces tight from below while michael j fox just set his feet in them.;
@blakebevin, have you tried the tv-b-gone from adafruit? I have been pondering it for awhile but before I buy my materials for this project I wanted your input. I think I will get it but wanted to know if you have built it.
kenexinator5 years ago
SWEET JOB!!!
As a person with disabilities I was thinking your invention would be great for para's, quads as well as elderly people. It is the seed of a great idea I think, just needs some refining. But anyway, congrats on winning. Great Instructable!
saberwing5 years ago
you could always just use north face boa system sneakers , like the ones i wear
guru5205 years ago
If you want to know how to make a million dollars with this.....hmmmmmmm...should I tell you ? Ok ...make a deal with the In-Line skates people to add this to their top of the line skates for 2 point on every one sold.
Tomcat945 years ago
That's pretty awesome. Not only that, but today is also the day that Doc set the time to in Back to the Future.
backtothefuture.png
Nope. Internet hoax. The date was Oct 21, 2015. Now you know, and knowing's half the battle.
So that means we only have 5 years, 3 months, and 13 days to invent and implement flying cars, hover boards, and redesign the Pepsi bottle? We need to start working!
so when does work begin
GOOO JOE!
:(
False , in the movie the time set in the DeLorean always end with a 5 . watch the movie and stop spreading this lies .
shit, I never got my hover-board... where did we go wrong?
XOIIO Tomcat945 years ago
Sweet!
silfrgluggr5 years ago
With a little more time and risk of wrecking shoes you could probably put the laces through the shoe and fix the motor in its own little pocket :P just for a visual effect. Great Instructable!
mrwolfe5 years ago
I just LOVE this! Now if you can just miniaturise it a bit ...
raytruant5 years ago
It's not fair that someone that hot is that smart.
Can't we look past gender and focus on the instructable?
Beautiful mind, beautiful woman ;) And MAN it's been forever since I seen that movie...lmao. Nice job girl ;)
foehn raytruant5 years ago
There is no fair; there is only what is. More power to her, she's "hot" and smart!
Barramundi5 years ago
muscle wire threaded through some fibreglass heat resistant tubing could make for a simpler auto lacing shoe.
jmitc1115 years ago
hey are those black things up on the ankle part above and below the zip tye part of the shoe or the design
blakebevin (author)  jmitc1115 years ago
Part of the shoe.
phew i thought i missed part of the tutorial
WyldStyl35 years ago
what is the style of those Nike's...my girlfriend LOVES them!!!
blakebevin (author)  WyldStyl35 years ago
They say Nike Air, not sure about anything else. Got them from Ross.
this is amazing! the only thing i would do differently is i would make a small shell tho cover the electronics that matches the color of the shoe. maybe your next auto lacing shoe project could be water proof. =)
Steelsmith15 years ago
As a slightly disabled person who has problems tying his shoes: If l you develop this and can market this properly this could be a useful thing for paraplegics etc. It would need to look nice enough and be affordable, but some of us have problems tying our shoes.
metroid625 years ago
Those shoes are great! I need to try and make my own from your instructions, I just hope I don't need to go to the airport in them.
notuboc5 years ago
oh my goodness those are awesome. righteously awesome. (^_^)
katchas5 years ago
I will absolutely vote for you! and buy your shoes for my malajusted kids. Where do I sign up?
Azelis5 years ago
That is completely unnecessary, absolutely rediculous, totally useless, and I will be building my own as soon as I can afford the parts :-Þ I give this build a 'fully awesome' rating.
XenonJohn5 years ago
The tensioning system reminded me immediately of the Gibson Robot Self-tuning guitar. It has really neat compact servo operated device for tensioning each string (obviously you would not need that much tension else it would cut off your foot but you know what I mean). I agree it would be interesting for disabled people especially if the laces were low friction so the shoe sprung open automatically as the tension on the laces (or strap) was released, allowiing you to just step in and out easily. Would it be any advantage in ski boots or anything like that I wonder?
habzbah5 years ago
I want to make these, but does any one know how many inches the apparatus protrudes from the back of the shoe? I'm planning on making these and wearing them to Johnny Rockets :D Maybe I'll make a scene and start yelling that I'm from the future or something too.
noneedto5 years ago
this is a great idea!!!!! the only problem would be the circuits on the rear of the shoes.... i dont think they can stand alot of bumping. Water wouldnt be great either! i know it is just a design =D and i love being lazy!!! keep up your work! 5.0
hammer98765 years ago
Awesome!
brssnkl5 years ago
it is great but why did u worked so hard :D you could simply use one cord and a simple motor with a simple circut glue 2 magnets and 2 magnetic switch at the sides of shoes when u put shoes near the cords get simply opened or closed if u need a better explanation, contact with me :D
I like the idea it makes sense, could definitely be used to help the slightly disabled. brssnkl: I also think using magnets somehow would be a good idea if it works the same as his concept. But I don't understand your brief explanation. Maybe you can post a drawing of what you mean.
zeon5 years ago
GREAT JOB!!!
Pablojr5 years ago
I think that you should have a loop on the side of the shoe for the lace to go through and hide that motor in the sole
hitachi85 years ago
you are also on http://www.clubic.com/insolite/actualite-351552-retour-futur-fausses-dates-vraies-chaussures.html
switch625 years ago
Very, very cool.
What you have done is brilliant.

It wouldn't take much more work to take this from proof of concept to a practical application. You could certainly make the electronics smaller with a speciallized circuit.  That way it could fit in the heel or the ankle strap. The servos would need to be smaller. Have the straps run under the skin of the shoe.

How tightly do the laces hold ?  Are they as tight as normal laces ? 
beastyface5 years ago
hey dude i really like the shoes i will pay for a pair of the power laces my shoe size is a six and a half in nikes and if you can can yo sort of hide the motor
fluxuss5 years ago
if you can manage to use smd technology, I think it will be possible to hide all electronics into the bottom of shoe then it will be completley useful. I mean you can walk in the streets with this without looking like an android :D
kcls5 years ago
Smile! You're on Engadget Alt!
Cracknel5 years ago
You should go for smaller controllers :)
That is sweet! Pretty cool shoes too. Probably looks a bit suspicious to a cop though...
do NOT take these through an airport. Bad enough they xray shoes...
blakebevin (author)  LuminousObject5 years ago
The shoes were from Ross. The hat was from http://www.mirajcaps.com/ but they're sold out. Sometimes eBay will have the official Hat for sale.
Probably the coolest thing I've seen at anyplace, at anytime, ever. I foresee a steampunk version, but I dig the 80's look :)
XOIIO5 years ago
This is wicked!
balisticjoe5 years ago
Amazing project. Were did you find those shoes and hat
jeicrash5 years ago
Sweet, now if you can compact it down, maybe a worm gear to wrap the laces up or something. Also a side note I have that same red organizer on my work bench. Keep it up.
vicos5 years ago
ooh my marrie me dear geeky lady
XeeeLoo!5 years ago
THE GIRL IS SOOOOOO PREEEEEETYYYYYYYY!!! :$! xD
rdk5 years ago
Wow, those are some impressively striking colors (on the shoe). Do you usually wear such, uh, clashing colors? /offtopic But I really like the power laces!
kirnex5 years ago
Not sure what to say. A lot of effort to be lazy. Otherwise, pretty damned cool! If any of us "lazy" people would ever get around to actually doing this...well, we WON'T. But...it's something for us to aspire to, anyhow (and add to our lists)!
oooh, awesome! 2015 comes early.
MK II could have SMD parts or even a flexible arduino and with some memory alloy actuator instead of servos, everything could be concealed in the sole and the tab so the shoe wouldn't look like there's an IED straped to it.


kcls5 years ago
You sure are a big fan of zip ties! Very cool 'ible. I can't see walking around in public with an arduino strapped to the back of my shoe :D. Maybe it would be fun! Couldn't board an airplane wearing them though...
laxap5 years ago
AFAIK, RC servos can be connected to the Arduino shield, directly: powered by VCC, and commanded by a PWM output. So my question is: why do you need the motor shield? Very cool project. I just love the BTTF trilogy!
blakebevin (author)  laxap5 years ago
I was originally gong to use DC motors, but it didn't work to well, so I switched to Servos. Figured I bought they motor shield and might as well use it ;)
nickodemus5 years ago
Smile, you're on Hackaday!
Okay, I'm impressed. Nice idea, and I bet someone could clean it up and integrate the whole device into the heel - especially in cross-trainers or similar shoes with a stiff heel. Nice job.
the future has come early
... and it looks like the 1980s :)

Last weekend someone introduced me to actual shoes that tighten a strap using a rotating knob on the front, a bit like the adjusters on some safety helmets. You could conceivably servo-power one of those for a tighter fastening- shoes for people with mobility problems, for instance?