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NC State and CMU develop velocity-sensing shoe radar, aim to improve indoor GPS routing

Darren Murph
December 1, 2010
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The world at large owes a good bit to Maxwell Smart, you know. Granted, it's hard to directly link the faux shoe phone to the GPS-equipped kicks that are around today, but the lineage is certainly apparent. The only issue with GPS in your feet is how they react when you waltz indoors, which is to say, not at all. In the past, most routing apparatuses have used inertial measurement units (IMUs) to track motion, movement and distance once GPS reception is lost indoors, but those have proven poor at spotting the difference between a slow gait and an outright halt. Enter NC State and Carnegie Mellon University, who have worked in tandem in order to develop a prototype shoe radar that's specifically designed to sense velocity. Within the shoe, a radar is attached to a diminutive navigational computer that "tracks the distance between your heel and the ground; if that distance doesn't change within a given period of time, the navigation computer knows that your foot is stationary." Hard to say when Nike will start testing these out in the cleats worn by football players, but after last week's abomination of a spot (and subsequent botching of a review by one Ron Cherry) during the NC State - Maryland matchup, we're hoping it's sooner rather than later.

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