“Smart” Golf Shoes Backed By Samsung On Their Way

IOFIT Smart Balance Golf Shoes
IOFIT Smart Balance Golf Shoes
IOFIT Smart Balance Golf Shoes

Every year golfers ask if everything in golf has been invented. And every year my own answer is the same.

No.

This is partly because I understand that somewhere there are people piecing together information that for a product that consumers may not see until a decade from now.

It’s a never-ending cycle of ingenuity in the golf business.

And Samsung Electronics wants in via a venture they are backing. Earlier this year they were behind a weather and UV-detecting golf shirt that was shown at the Consumer and Electronics Show (CES) and, apparently, they are not done with golf-related introductions.

Like the rest of the world, the golf industry is being inundated with app-based and wearable electronic products, many of them can be used to measure performance and give feedback we can use. That can mean just for fun for or to derive results we can figure into our skill development.

Recently, in the golf teaching world, the growth of portable foot pressure systems has come to light. The idea is that measuring the pressure that we use in our feet to interact with the ground can be used to interpret movement. Coaches uses that information with students to advance how they use the ground to develop more force (and resulting power) in their golf swing as well as to analyze patterns that could also take the golf club in the wrong direction.

This was first accomplished with very cumbersome and expensive force plates. Although more accurate and versatile, the refined product that has come from this has been portable pressure mats. Leading the way has been one with Canadian roots (developed in Winnipeg), BodiTrak.  I first wrote about BodiTrak in 2013 and from simple roots it has become an industry sensation. Even golf footwear giant FootJoy recently unveiled a shoe performance fitting system in partnership with the company. You can now commonly see BodiTrak mats in use on the range at PGA Tour events by the best players in the world.

As BodiTrak evolves with their products, other items that measure foot pressure are also coming to light.

This week at the Mobile World Congress in Spain, a startup that goes by the name of Salted Venture, who is supported by SamSung Electronics, is showing off IOFIT. This line of shoes incorporates pressure sensors (of an unknown quantity) that combine with a coaching app on your phone or tablet to show what is going on with pressure in your feet. They are targeting separate models for both the fitness and golf markets.

“There’s so much valuable information coming from our feet, and it’s being wasted,” said Jacob Cho, CEO of Salted Venture. “So, we wanted to make use of this data and utilize it to provide value to people. That was the driving force behind IOFIT.”

Built into the outsoles of the shoes are accelerometers and pressure sensors that collect data points on balance, position of mass, location of centre of gravity and ground contact force.

“The technology is not only portable, but also seamless. It’s integrated into something you wear all the time, so you don’t even have to think about it,” noted Marketer Jungsoo Park.

IOFIT Golf Shoes that measure foot pressure along with an app are on their way in 2016 (Photo: Samsung)
IOFIT Golf Shoes that measure foot pressure along with an app are on their way in 2016 (Photo: Samsung)

Instead of just spitting data at the user, the App interprets it into a useful graphic in real-time through the smartphone app that is paired with the shoes. Once a golfer understands that they are looking for (usually with the help of a coach) they can complete training wherever they can swing a club, even as they play a round.

The shoes are fitted with a rechargeable battery that lasts 5-7 hours.

Of course, the downside of this tech (versus a pressure mat) is that with individual sizing, students will need their own shoes and they are prone to wear out at some point.

In the meantime, for (USD) $250, anything that helps their golf game might just make the shoes of interest.

The IOFIT golf shoes are expected to become available through a Kickstarter campaign later this summer.

/ Scott MacLeod