In today's world, almost everybody has experienced foot pain from shoes. Shoe misfits are often the root of foot problems. As shoes come in standard sizes/shapes only, our own feet have to compromise to the shoe’s pre-designed configuration. When shoes fail to fit properly, they can cause abrasions and contusions that develop into painful corns, mallet toes, and bunions. All these ailments will bring about great discomfort or even physical pain to our feet.
Our invention is a pair of shoes that can mold onto the user’s foot regardless of the foot’s actual shape and size. This is achieved by simply using shape memory polymer as the shoe material. Instructions to mold the shoe onto a foot are simple, and can be easily achieved almost everywhere.
Refer to the figure and and video at
To mold a foot in the shoe, the shoe has to be warmed up to 45ºC first, possibly using a hair dryer. Thereafter, the shoe softens and becomes easily stretchable like a sock. While it is worn over the foot, the warmed up shoe naturally cools down to room temperature and stiffens. The stiffened but still flexible shoe thus retains the size, shape and all curvatures of the wearer’s foot after taking off. Each shoe is able to maintain its molded shape and size unless it is reheated to 45ºC for reuse.
According to their individual preferences for comfort, wearers can fine-tune the shoes conveniently and quickly whenever wanted and for as many times as needed. There is no worry about tripping over an overly loose pair of shoes since they can be tailored to snugly fit every foot. This design even help wearers circumvent health issues, such as poor blood circulation and nerve compression commonly observed in the feet. Furthermore, it allows multiple users to share the same pair of shoes.
As shown in the video (for proof of concept only), the shoe is stretchable to any size, thus effectively creating a pair of one-size-fit-all shoes. Since feet features are molded into the shoe, there is no distinction between a left or right shoe too. Shoe manufacturers can shrink their assembly lines to focus on mass-producing a single shoe size, which will drastically reduce the cost of production for shoe companies.
In addition, the material can be chosen from a broad range of shape memory polymers readily available from the market at low cost, e.g. polyurethane. Therefore, manufacturers may employ conventional polymer processing technologies to mass-produce these shoes inexpensively. The idea may be even extended to improve traditional shoes; they can be endowed with molding abilities by adding shape memory polymers as an internal layer within the shoe.
Without compromising on comfort, our shoes positively reinforce the health and wellness for every wearer. This invention (provisional patent application filed in Singapore) is thus suitable for many people, but mostly for those with difficulty searching footwear of appropriate size and fit, which includes the elderlies.