Finding shoes that are a comfortable fit is a challenge that most of us face when shopping. At the same time, it is also a challenge for the footwear industry which must try to match the size of the shoes it puts on the market to the wide range of feet measurements that fall within one sizing category – a near impossible task. All this could be about to change with the latest revolution in footwear – bespoke shoes. EU-funded VSP (Volumental – The Cloud-Delivered 3D Scanning Service Supporting A Future Of Mass Customization) project has helped pave the way for the rise in bespoke shoes by taking advanced 3D foot scanning technology from a proof-of-concept stage to a successful commercial product. ‘Our product has had success with hundreds of 3D foot scanner systems sold to the world’s top footwear brands and stores used by hundreds of thousands of consumers. We are now known as the market leader in our industry,’ says Mikael Andersson, Senior Product Owner at Volumental and Project Coordinator. Today, Volumental technology is available in 32 countries, helping thousands of customers to find better fitting footwear on a daily basis. It is used by globally popular brands including Bauer Hockey and New Balance. Accurate 3D models of feet During the project, researchers improved 3D foot scanning technology to make it more accurate, faster and market-ready. To do this they built novel 3D scanners using the latest camera technologies that can create accurate 3D models of feet, taking into account all the different measurements of feet, not just heel to toe length. Using software algorithms to produce high-accuracy 3D models and inexpensive hardware linked to a cloud computing service, Volumental created a system that produces data that can be easily incorporated into mainstream 3D software systems. Meanwhile, to test the technology, researchers scanned more than 10 000 people and found that there is a significant difference in heights and widths within one shoe size. ‘With accurate 3D foot modelling, bespoke footwear that matches all the measurements of the foot can be produced easily and everyone can benefit from better fitting footwear in the market as a whole,’ says Andersson. The project also worked on enhancing user experience to make it fun and interesting for consumers. For example, customers can see their feet in 3D, making it easy to understand their foot shape and help them to select comfortable footwear. Volumental is currently extending its reach to customers all over the world. The company is now looking to expand into the personal consumer experience by building a mobile app that can recommend footwear to people via their mobile devices.
Volumental, VSP, footwear, bespoke shoes, 3D foot scanning, New Balance, Bauer Hockey