KickSoul is an embedded insole that maps natural feet movements into inputs for digital devices.
Have you ever tried to answer a call, respond to a text or look something up on your phone when your hands are full? Thanks to a team of MIT Media Lab researchers, you can try using your feet instead. Introducing KickSoul — an insole that simply slips inside of your shoe and enables you to wirelessly control your mobile devices and appliances with a flick of your foot.
“Most of [today’s] devices have visual interfaces that rely on hand gestures and touch interaction, as they are easy and natural for us. However, there are occasions when our hands are busy or it is not acceptable to make use of them, preventing us from interacting with our devices,” the group led by Xavier Benavides writes.
To bring their idea to life, the Media Lab crew sewed several electronic components onto a spongy insole. These included an accelerometer and a gyroscope to track motion, an ATmega328 to help collect data and a Bluetooth module for wireless communication. The six-axis IMU registers the movements and transmits them to the MCU. From there, the information is analyzed by a special algorithm and relayed to an accompanying mobile app.
The system supports two types of interactions: pushing an imaginary object away with your foot and pulling one closer. The idea is that, with just these two simple foot movements, you can scroll, zoom in and out on a document, turn on a light, accept or reject a phone call, and save or delete a file. Whenever either gesture is detected, KickSoul will search for the nearest compatible device and determine which one the user wants to operate.
“Most of these interactions are short in time and not very complex. As a consequence, feet become a suitable substitute or complement to hands, as they tend to be free when our hands are not,” the researchers conclude.
Intrigued? Check out the project’s official paper here, and see it in action below.