Mass-customized software experiences are something we’re used to by now. We’re not surprised anymore when Facebook reminds us to wish friends happy birthday, or when we see a website pop-up that reads: “We see you’re using Internet Explorer, do you hate good things?”
With hardware though, customization has never been quite as easy. That’s slowly changing as 3D printing is applied to manufacturing processes more and more every day. Two startups in particular are using 3D printing to bring us some pretty innovative options in customized footwear.
J&S Enterprises has taken a technology that applies the principles of 3D printing to good ‘ol knitting, creating customizable knitted shoes. They’re called JS Shoes, and they’re supposed to be light, form-fitting, and minimal in just about every sense of the word.
What really sets JS Shoes apart is that they’re produced using 3D knitting technology, making them the first of their kind in the world. Now, 3D knitting may not sound like a real advancement (since, you know, knitting has always been practiced in three dimensions), but it truly is – 3D-printing actual knitted products is something that has never been applied to mass production this way before.
JS Shoes offers a ‘buy one by one’ policy, so users can customize each shoe they buy, accounting for people with different sized feet – and there are a lot of them. There are five colour options from which to choose: teal, magenta, yellow, azure, and a special edition rainbow version. There isn’t a whole lot more customization options that have been made available at this point, but it is possible that they create a way for users to customize shoes to non-standard measurements in the future.
JS Shoes is currently on KickStarter and just cracked it’s $50K goal with almost 550 backers and still more than 30 days left to go.
Knitted shoes are cool and all, but if you’d much rather wear your favorite pair of sneakers and still want a customized fit, perhaps some arch support and a little more stability in the heel, BASE by Wiivv would be the way to go. The startup makes 3D printed custom insoles using 2D images of buyers’ feet.
It all starts at the Wiivv app, currently available only on iOS (the Android version is expected by summer).
Users first choose the style of insole they want; there are four base colors and eight top sheet patterns from which to pick. Once that’s done, they’re required to take five pictures of their feet, to capture the various contours.
The action then moves to Wiivv’s manufacturing center, where these images are verified by an expert and processed by its modeling software. At this point a 3D-printable file is produced, which is sent to an enterprise-grade 3D printer. Once the printed product is obtained, real humans throw on a top layer and your custom insole is good to go.
BASE by Wiivv is also currently on Kickstarter. The campaign has reached its goal of $50,000, but now has a stretch goal of $250,000 – it’s at about $145K with just over a week to go. Talk about a sprint to the finish…
Early bird deliveries are expected to kick off in February.
Prateek Jose is a writer and engineering undergrad from India with an unhealthy obsession for obscure historical trivia. Conversations about absurdist fiction and the technological singularity make his day. He’s already uploading parts of his brain to servers by writing for websites such as this one.
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