Futuristic footwear brand Baliston has introduced a new experience that's a step above your regular shoe. This sustainable, AI-powered garment analyzes numerous data points every time you step onto the pavement and is also 100 percent recyclable.
t wanting to be left behind, I tested a pair myself and I will never see a plain walker in the same condition again.
In a press release for "Baliston by STARCK," so named because the shoe was created by leading designer, architect and investor Phillipe Starck, a statement summarizing exactly what this new, groundbreaking product is: "Embedded in AI technology that captures the wearer's gait biometrics to analyze their walking DNA and provide tailored insights for an app that helps users understand the body and improve their movement."
There is a lot to unpack and I have questions! For example, does this just add too many layers of complexity to what should be a quiet stroll or an exhilarating jog? And if not, why do we even need data about the way we walk? After testing the shoe myself, I found the answers, and they were easy to understand.
Construction of the STARCK Baliston
Luckily, STARCK's Baliston is easy to set up. In the box there is a chip for each foot, placed in the sole, as well as a USB charger to charge the chips batteries. Fitting the chips into the shoe is effortless, but I was concerned that having two lumps of plastic under my feet would make it uncomfortable. Luckily this wasn't the case. Within minutes you can be out of the house and collecting data. Just download the app, add some profile information, pair it with the shoes and you're good to go.
What can AI data tell us about the way we move?
"It's more than a shoe," Frenchman Phillipe Starck said of the Baliston in a recent Instagram post. He explained that these shoes know more about us than we know about them. "It's a revolution," he concludes. In fact, this AI knows things about you that you probably didn't even know were a "thing" at all. Let's take a closer look.
- Supination and pronation: Supine walkers tend to place more weight on the outside of the foot, as opposed to pronated walkers, where walkers tend to place more pressure on the inside. Both types of strides are perfectly normal, and apparently we all find individual ways of distributing our weight. Supination dominance is less common in the general population but more common in athletes. However, knowing what type of walker you are could provide valuable insight into injury mitigation. If you're more of a supinator and have knee or back pain, you can experiment with introducing a little more pronation.
- Drive: Propulsion isn't just reserved for Usain Bolt and jet engines, it's something we all have to varying degrees. The AI measures the speed at which your foot leaves the ground while pedaling.
- High power: What goes up must come down again. Therefore, a measure is taken of the force with which your heel hits the ground as it returns to earth.
- Inseam: This measurement indicates the distance between two consecutive heel strikes of the same foot.
- Symmetry: Here the AI analyzes your gait (the pattern of your gait) to determine the difference between the time you spend in the left and right phase of your stride. The maximum score would be 100% (50% on each foot)
Why do we need data about our path?
Our natural walking speed becomes information of great importance to the medical world. In fact, research suggests that those who walk faster consistently outperform those who lag behind. By measuring our walking performance, we can identify strengths and weaknesses, which could help us improve our gait and resulting speed. After putting on these Baliston bad boys, I was dying to see how I did overall. The app says 69/100, which doesn't sound great, but the screen assures me that that's High Quality. When I look more closely, one of the reasons for this high quality result is my symmetry, which was 100% determined!
The app also offers advice on how to improve your scores and partial scores. For example, "stride length could be increased simply by improving posture." For someone who often suffers from back pain, this makes perfect sense. "When you walk, try looking 15-20 meters ahead, stand up straight and try to keep your shoulders down," advises my new Footsy friend.
How comfortable are the Baliston by STARCK shoes?
It's always nice to hear that a shoe is sustainable, but it's often difficult to understand what percentage of a product can actually be recycled. In the case of STARCK's Baliston, this value is clear: 100%. At first glance, the design is spot on. It is an elegant, casual footwear that can be worn in the gym or in the office depending on the color scheme.
I went for the all black pair and really appreciate the option of having a black sneaker that doesn't have a strong white soul. Instead, it features a black STARCK sole and a fabric outer lining that's cool and understated, allowing you to wear it in different environments. For me the shoe was roomy and that's something I look for in the fit. I don't like my toes touching the front of the shoe. I need my space! The purchase model requires you to subscribe to the $249.99 per year plan. For this, in addition to the first pair and all data, Baliston replaces your shoes and recycles them once they are worn out. The app even tells you when it's time to send them back.
I was very surprised that this shoe has actually become one of my favorite everyday pieces of clothing and I have not once felt the chipping under my feet. Stripping away all the technical tricks, the shoe is worth its price in and of itself. The app itself is easy to use, albeit perhaps in its infancy. I'm sure there will be more data points and more articles and resources to explain the myriad aspects of our walking, but in terms of revolutionizing footwear, it's hard to disagree with Starck's assessment that this is a bit of one Revolution. It's a shoe, Jim, but not as we know it. w available!