Work in progress...
Technology-wise this version already works by simply hooking any pair of existing JoySlippers up to a wireless version of the electronics box that is integrated in a belt. The problem of mobility is now the feedback. I have not yet figured out how to make really good use of the wide range of movement. I’m working with a BlueSMiRF Bluetooth module from Sparkfun, that supposedly has a range of 100m+. And depending on what kind of feedback I want to implement, I might have to think about making it portable as well.
I’d like to use audio or sensory feedback and also make the feedback wearable and transportable.
The spiral telephone cord was introduced in this version to give the wearer more freedom to move. It also makes use of the stretchy-ness of the telephone cord as well as the sturdy standard phone jack plug that allows the slippers to be unplugged from the electronics box. The cables are permanently fixed to the heel of the slippers.
These versions might not qualify as slippers, as they are really only the sole and need to be used in combination with existing shoes -slippers, sandals, socks or even ski boots. The nice thing about the Inlays is that you can use them with different kinds of footwear. The reason these are not detachable at the sole, is because I didn’t want to attach anything hard so close to the foot. All of the detachable connection solutions I’ve implemented so far include hard materials such as snaps, perf-boards and phone jacks. I could imagine using conductive Velcro, but even this is not the softest of solutions.
This was the second soft JoySlipper version. I was looking for an alternative to sewing nine snaps per slipper -three on the slipper, and three on either side of the connection cable. So, although this version didn’t lead to easier connections, it was good for fast prototyping, using crocodile clips to quickly connect to the electronics. And in the end the conductive tabs turned out to be a great for making the permanent connections, that I use for the Inlay versions.
This was the very first soft version of the JoySlippers. Snaps are very useful for making electronic-to-fabric connections, but can get annoying when you have to sew too many.
The very first prototype for the JoySlippers was actually not soft at all but made from aluminium tape on cerial-box cut-outs in the shape of soles. The prototype proved to me that by shifting my weight from left to right and toe to heel I could nicely manipulate directional input: up, down, left, right. Actually the aluminium still makes sense when the slippers have a hard sole, and maybe when I start making JoyShoes, I’ll come back to it.