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Another new perspective on wearable technology

The Kinect-powered ShoeSense takes us one step closer to a truly hands-free lifestyle

What’s this? An alternative to fumbling for my smartphone in a mad panic? The ability to discreetly S.O.S for rescue in the event of a bad blind date? A way to sneakily record conversations? I’m down with that. While I have a feeling that clumsy people like me would probably break the hardware before the end of the first day, ShoeSense is still exciting to contemplate.

The proof-of-concept prototype by post-doctoral researcher Gilles Bailly lets you discreetly use your smartphone using gestures. The syste, is comprised of a small, single-board computer with a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor and 512MB of on-board memory, a shoe-mounted depth camera (somehow, I don’t think ShoeSense is particularly compatible with stilettos), and a battery pack–it’s a fair bit to lug around but, in exchange, you’ll be able to turn control of your various personal devices into a covert gesture-based art form.

Currently, the system features three different gesture sets–Triangle, Radial and Finger-Count–and the potential to do pretty much everything short of typing out an actual text message.

According to Gilles, ShoeSense will be particularly useful when you want to quickly carry out common tasks without reaching for your phone, discreetly use your phone without disturbing others, allow for improved accessibility and…put on artistic performances? Er…

I can’t really envision a future where ballerinas tether Microsoft Kinect cameras to their feet, but stranger things have happened. Maybe.