ShiftWear Classic Indiegogo custom e-paper sneaker

Ever wish you could customize the look of your shoes whenever you wanted? ShiftWear’s Classic promises just that. The high tech sneakers feature a wrap around, flexible e-paper screen. Using a mobile app you can create and share static and animated designs and then load them onto your shoes. The concept is pretty exciting and reminds us a lot of the Sony FES Watch and Shift Sneakers. If customizing your kicks on the go sounds appealing, ShiftWear is currently offering the footwear through an Indiegogo campaign. The low-tops require a $150 pledge, the mid-tops $250, and the high-tops $350. ShiftWear believes they will have a shipping product in Fall of 2016.  

The company speaks to some pretty amazing, gee-wiz type features for the shoes. Among the feature set is a waterproof  / machine washable design with kevlar soles that recharge the batteries as you walk, always-on HD color e-paper displays, wireless charging, and a 30 day battery life. The creators even allude to a backlight that can be turned on. The problem is, when you read deeper, most of these features are likely not to happen. ShiftWear refers to them as if they are just part of the product; the reality though is that if you are expecting the HD color screen, you better hope the Indiegogo campaign raises at least $1 Million. Wireless charging and the ‘charge-as-you-walk’ tech – $2 Million. In fact the mobile app doesn’t even get mentioned before the $250K level. All of this ends up making our Spidey-senses tingle. Hopefully we are woefully wrong, but the entire project seems to lack transparency and the creators have an attitude as if these shoes are easy to achieve.

To get an understanding of how difficult e-paper / e-ink based accessories are, one need not look any further than another crowdfunded product – the CST-01 Watch. The cuff bracelet used e-ink to achieve what it’s creators billed as the “world’s thinnest watch.” The project raised over $1 Million, more than 5 times the original goal. But over 2 years after the Kickstarter campaign ended, the creators gave up and no one received either the product or their money back. While the project’s creators explained that issues with production doomed the CST-01, they just as likely could have just been scammers looking to make a quick million. We are seeing more and more e-paper based tech, so maybe we are at a point where the ShiftWear Classics are possible. Just remember, pledging your support for a crowdfunded campaign is not the same as buying an item. If a project’s creator is unable to see it through to completion, they are under no obligation to provide a refund. In fact, according to Kickstarter, all the creator needs to do is offer up an explanation to supporters.