The French government has granted another subsidy to Hasley to help continue its ground-breaking research into the “intelligent shoe,” a shoe that has an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip in its heel (see Shoe Intelligence #4-5 of March 11, 2005). At the same time, Hasley has been talking with Porsche and a large unidentified Japanese electronics company about additional uses for this new technology.

These new potential uses include the prevention of auto theft, allowing only the wearer of the RFID-equipped shoe to start the car. Another use for the chip could be a reality video game, where the more complicated functions would be controlled by a key chain remote with an LCD screen and a joystick.

The shoes can be adopted for a variety of practical and personal uses, such as measuring blood pressure and the heart rate. As previously reported, another potential use would be a GPS locator in the shoe that can help parents to find lost children. The “intelligent shoe” may even be used as a sort of match-making service, letting one know if someone else wearing similar shoes is single or not, and looking for a mate,and the list goes on.

RFID technology is being increasingly adopted for identification and registration purposes and other uses by major retailers such as Wal-Mart, where it helps track down consumer habits. According to Reed, which is organizing the first European RIFD fair in paris on Oct. 12-14, grouping some 120 exhibitors, the world market for RFID technologies amounted to about €1.2 billion last year, of which 72 percent was represented by equipment and materials.

In Gezrmany, the Metro group and other companies involved in retailing, the consumer goods industry, information technology and a variety of logistic and other services have set up an “RFID Forum.”

Hasley has developed several prototypes of shoes that contain a RFID chip in their heels. For this French shoe company, which is relatively small, the largest barrier for bringing them to market is money. Hasley is hoping that some large investors will help fund the manufacturing process. Right now the cost is €15,000 per prototype.

Patrick Moniotte, president of Hasley, is proposing that European shoe manufacturers should embrace this new technology to help them to compete with cheap imports in order to continue competing globally. He was elected a few months ago as president of the French Shoe Industry Federation on a platform that called for innovation and marketing.

After all, the basic technology behind the shoe has not changed in 150 years, with the exception of a few shock absorption and anti-perspiration techniques, according to Moniotte, and the whole consumer goods market is on the cusp of a major revolution in communication.