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A step forward in properly fitted fashionable footwear

Finding shoes that are both fashionable and comfortable could become a lot simpler thanks to a new approach to customisation from the EU-funded DEMOSHOPINSTANTSHOE project.

DEMOSHOPINSTANTSHOE, which was completed at the end of April 2015, sought to make purchasing custom-shaped shoes a much more convenient and simple procedure. This has been achieved through the adoption of smart materials, the development of an innovative portable foot measuring scanner and a simple means of adjusting shoes right in the shop. The customisation process works like this: The client first chooses a shoe model among the customisable collection. Measurements of the client's feet are then taken in the store using pictures which are taken and processed via a specific app. Finally, the upper part of the selected shoe is modified in order to adapt the footwear to the client's specific foot shape. This is possible because the upper part of the shoe is made of a specific shape-memory composite, which can keep the given shape. The customer can verify the fitting, and decide if she buys the footwear, or not. The key component allowing for shape memory is a textile that includes wires made of a specific material called Nitinol, an alloy of nickel and titanium. This material is inserted in the textile structure with a particular patented pattern. The new shape-memory material allows customers to purchase fashionable shoes that are fully ergonomic, comfortable and customised. If a particular model of footwear is rejected, the shoe recovers its initial shape through a simple heating process that takes just a few seconds. This is hugely beneficial for retailers, as all rejected customised footwear can simply be put back in stock. Another key advantage of this innovation is that customers with minor foot conditions can choose from a wide variety of models in the knowledge that they do not have to sacrifice comfort for fashion. Foot disease is a common problem that disproportionally affects women; the Hallux Valgus, more commonly known as the bunion for example, affects 20 % of adult women. Other conditions such as hammertoes, claw toes and ingrown nails are commonplace. Many of these conditions are caused by the prolonged use of inadequate footwear that does not provide sufficient support to the foot. Variations in foot size and shape make achieving an adequate fitting for each individual consumer very difficult, and the result is, especially in the case of women, uncomfortable and unhealthy footwear. The DEMOSHOPINSTANTSHOE project represents a step forward in putting an end to this, and at the same time will help the European footwear sector become more competitive through assimilating and exploiting new technologies. It builds on the very successful SHOPINSTANTSHOE project, which developed the key concepts that were put to the test in this latest EU-funded project. The consortium hopes that the project prototype will be ready to be put on the market by the end of 2015. For further information please visit: DEMOSHOPINSTANTSHOE