GTX Corporation has recently been awarded a broad US patent for innovative GPS shoe technology covering 105 claims, including 21 independent claims. Until now we thought it was only possible to use GPS technology in cars, watches, or pet collars. GPS in shoes?! Genius! About as genius as putting wheels on suitcases, which was patented in 1972, and still continues to reap millions of dollars in licensing fees. We hope this new patent won’t result in higher priced GPS embedded trail running shoes!
GTX originally developed their product, “Ambulator,” to assist healthcare professionals in keeping track of Alzheimer’s patients who often wander away from caregivers; however, GTX’s patent will pose a significant challenge for any competitors to operate anywhere in the GPS enabled footwear space. Chris Walsh, COO of GTX, and ex VP at Nike and Reebok said, “…broad patents effectively creates more barriers to entry and blocks competition.” But since GTX uses the technology primarily for Alzheimer’s patients, how long will it be before trail running shoe companies license this technology and put it in our trail running shoes?
Hopefully soon. The possibilities are endless for uses of GPS in trail running shoes. A GPS in trail running shoes could be used for safety measures against trail runners becoming lost, dehydrated, or worse during remote trail runs. With the GPS device authorities would be able to find trail runners in danger quicker. In addition, GPS devices in trail running shoes could be used to determine distance, map trails, and set paces. Just be sure to knock the trail dirt off before plugging your shoe into your laptop computer. A GPS device in a trail running shoe could be used for all of the current trail running uses, but in the runners’ shoes, allowing them to wear less cumbersome gear.
GPS technology in trail running shoes is not far away, we just hope it won’t cost an arm and leg. Legs are important for trail running.