Creators: Lance Yijie Li, Ruiqi Wang, William Hua
Supervisor: Peter Yeadon
This study explores how smart materials might enable self-lacing shoes, instead of using conventional motors, batteries, and sensors. These common components add weight to each shoe, and the motors generate a loud noise whenever they tighten shoelaces. Instead, this project uses shape memory alloys/polymers to mitigate these issues, for a more seamless experience. The project benefits those with dexterity issues, whilst envisioning changes to the future of shoe fashion. Additionally, there are a number of scenarios and occupations where it may be beneficial to avoid touching your shoes.
Early sandal prototypes enabled the team to understand the promise and challenges of the chosen smart material, which led to the invention of a ratchet mechanism for the shoe that could be disengaged via a button slider. The smart material mechanism pulls a band attached to the shoe upper, tightening the shoe. This action is activated by kicking or pressing a button at the back of the sole. To loosen the band, press the button slider adjacent to the band.