Glitter light-up sneakers

My friend, who is petite, bought this pair of glitter light-up sneakers from the children’s department. They were nice, comfortable and cheap, and there were 3 pairs left in her size. So she bought all 3 identical pairs.

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Glitter light-up sneakers (photo by Leonie Kueh).

I’m always slightly envious of adults who can buy footwear from the children’s department, because children’s shoes are usually cheaper and have more cute designs than adult shoes. I could not wear children’s shoes even when I was a child. Before I was 10 years old, I could already fit adult sizes. So that makes me ask, ‘Why don’t they make them in my size?’

Glitter light-up sneakers (Photo by Leonie Kueh).

Sneakers with lights in the soles (photo by Leonie Kueh).

I think this pair of light-up sneakers is pretty cool. They have colourful glitter straps across the front. Do manufacturers think that adults don’t want to wear glitter? Even cooler, in my opinion, are the lights in the soles. The soles of the sneakers light up in different colours every time the wearer takes a step. There are batteries in the soles that power the lights. Considering that there are lights and batteries in the soles, these sneakers are not heavier than regular sneakers. In this particular pair of sneakers, the batteries are not replaceable and there is no way to turn the lights off. I have seen other light-up children’s sneakers that come with an on/off button in the heel, which would prolong battery life.

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Sneakers with lights in the soles (photo by Leonie Kueh).

I think these light-up sneakers are very cool, especially when worn in low light. It’s a bit like having your own disco on the soles of your feet. So shoe manufacturers: ‘Why don’t you make them in my size?’

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Sneakers with lights in the soles (photo by Leonie Kueh).

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Biomechanics and the science of walking

Since participating in the shoe prints and forensic science research study, which I wrote about in late July, I have taken part in another research study. My friend told me about this study, researching the natural variance of the human footprint.

This study took place in a biomechanics lab (biomechanics is just a fancy name for the study of human movement). There, I was asked to walk across a designated area barefoot and with shoes. Special equipment on the floor measured my footprints while I walked and sent information to a computer. This kind of technology – assessing footprint patterns when walking – is often used to determine what footwear best suits a person.

I found the researcher quite amusing because he was way more excited about my results than I was. I guess it’s nice to see someone so passionate about their research. To me, my results were just a bunch of colourful graphs and diagrams, but the researcher kept saying my footprints were ‘Beautiful!’ and ‘Fantastic!’ Errr… thanks, I think. This is the first time anyone has ever complimented me on my feet or soles of my feet. The researcher was very excited because in the results, all my individual toes and weight transfer across each toe can be clearly seen. The researcher said this was not common and some people’s toes were all squashed together.

My results for walking with bare feet in the biomechanics lab. Areas that are coloured red and yellow are areas where I have exerted more force/placed more weight.

My results from doing this study: my weight transfer from heel to toe is consistent all over, which is a good thing. When I walk, my left foot points straight in the direction that I am walking, but my right foot is slightly turned out, at an angle of about 13 degrees. The researcher also said my feet are wide. I kind of already knew that, but it has just been scientifically proven. Lastly, he said that there are 26 bones in the foot and you need to take care of them. One way to do that is to replace your shoes before the soles get too worn.

I could choose what shoe to wear for the research study. This is my result for walking with skate shoes in the biomechanics lab.

Soles, shoe prints and forensic evidence, part 2

It seems as if the country is still gripped by shoe prints and forensic evidence. Today, as I was out getting lunch, I was approached by a University of Auckland Forensic Science student to take part in a research study. Funny really, because I am nowhere near Auckland.

This Master’s student was collecting shoe prints of people walking past for a research study entitled, ‘Determining the evidential value of a class match in footwear evidence.’ (I have trouble just understanding the title). By collecting all these samples of people’s shoe prints and soles, it can provide information on the shoes and frequencies of shoe styles worn by people in a certain area.

Shoe print collection in action

I was of course keen to participate. The student used inkless shoe print kits to collect data. All I had to do was step on a yellow chemically coated pad. I have no idea what kind of chemical it is coated with. Then, I stepped onto a special chemically sensitive paper, and my shoe print magically appeared in black on the white paper. It took all of 5 seconds, with no mess and no ink on the soles of my shoes. It was fun and very CSI.

Close up of an inkless shoeprint kit. Photo from http://www.copquest.com/43-6750.htm

Soles, shoe prints and forensic evidence, part 1

I knew the country was mesmerized by a murder trial when I heard the case being discussed while at my hairdresser’s. Recently in New Zealand, there has been great public interest in a murder trial. On 8th July 2010, a 31-year-old farmer Scott Guy was shot and killed in the driveway of his farm. His brother-in-law Ewen Macdonald was charged with his murder, but on the 3rd of July 2012, he was found to be not guilty.

The trial was largely based on circumstantial evidence. I was fascinated by the evidence presented in court, especially of shoe imprints found by the body, allegedly made by the killer. The shoe had a distinctive wavy pattern on the sole and police spent months trying to find out what shoe had made the shoe print. Police trawled through tens of thousands of entries in an Australian footwear database, FBI database and also a Canadian database to match the shoe print with the shoe. I was amazed that such footwear databases even exist. I thought this was the stuff of fiction and TV crime shows like CSI. I also couldn’t believe that it was actually someone’s job to spend hours going through databases to find a shoe print match.

Another aspect of the shoe print evidence that interested me was the method used to determine the killer’s shoe size. The prosecution said that the shoe prints were made by a size 9 Pro Line dive boot, and the accused owned a pair of those boots. I know that determining shoe size is difficult, and instead of measuring the length of the shoe imprint, the defence counted the rows of wave patterns on the sole to determine that it was made by a larger shoe, bigger than a size 9.

When you think of all the millions of different shoes that exist in the world, I question the accuracy of matching a shoe from shoe prints alone. My recent LA Gear sneakers have quite a distinctive design on its sole and yet the soles of my LA Gear sneakers were an exact match to a pair of Chinese AIR skate shoes that I also own. (Not Nike Air, not Airwalk, not Dr. Martens Air Wair – just Air). I couldn’t believe it when I first saw it and I carefully checked each sole imprint, and they were both a complete match. I actually suspect possible intellectual property infringement on the part of the Chinese label, maybe using a sole design from LA Gear. What other explanation could there be?

The soles of my LA Gear sneakers were an exact match to a Chinese brand of skate shoes called Air

Shoe designers need to realize that the soles, or what’s under a shoe, is just as important as what’s on top. For instance, red soles are the signature of Christian Louboutin shoes, and Caterpillar boots have the brand CAT on the soles. My Camper shoes have a very distinctive sole and also have the brand name on the soles.

Camper shoes with distinctive sole pattern and brand name on the soles.

I have a pair of Candy shoes with flying butterflies on the soles. Wearing that pair of shoes always makes me feel happy because I know I have butterflies on the soles of my feet.

Close up of flying butterflies on the soles of my Candy shoes.

Shoe prints leave an impression when people walk in sand, mud or when it’s wet. Unique shoe prints can be just as identifiable and distinctive as a brand or logo.