How AI is powering the Footwear Industry Today
A Brief Insight to the World of Sneakers and other Footwear run by AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has ruled almost every industrial niche with its alluring capabilities. Be it retail or logistics or healthcare; nowadays, every field is exploiting AI for numerous benefits. Thanks to the fast tech adoption and integration, AI is soon entering into the non-technical applications too. One of these sectors is a fashion and, most recently, footwear. Through the rapidly proliferating use of IoT and wearables, the footwear industry is soon going to be a major enabler of Artificial Intelligence in fashion. And as this technology matures and costs drop, we may find ourselves as the connoisseurs of this innovation too. According to the report by marketsandmarkets, the global AI in fashion market size is projected to grow from USD 228 million in 2019 to USD 1,260 million by 2024, at a CAGR of 40.8% during the forecast period.
Further, the primary growth determinants for the market include customer’s demand for a personalized experience, increasing the need for inventory management, and the growing influence of social media in the fashion industry. While this growth seems encouraging, the actual figure is small when compared to the overall footwear market revenues. However, given the latest products and innovative solutions introduced in the market, the trajectory can take a higher curve.
Nike has launched a digital shoe measurement tool that incorporates computer vision, machine learning, data science, recommendation algorithm of AI. Through Nike Fit, the US sportswear leader can recommend the perfect fit for each style of shoe. By using a smartphone camera, it scans the feet and collects 13 data-points mapping foot-morphology for both feet in a few seconds. The data is then stored on the NikePlus member profile and is used during future shopping to find out the perfect pair of shoes.
Also, last year, Nike had acquitted a predictive AI and cloud analytics company called Celect. The shoemaker company plans to leverage Celect’s technology into its SNKRS app and website that shall help to improve its new strategy of selling directly to customers. Through AI technology and analytics Nike’s shares shot up by 12% in direct business sales, which accounted for roughly 30% of Nike’s total revenue. This approach was different from Nike’s previous methods of reaching customers through third-party retailers like Footlocker or social media.
3D Printed Shoes!!
Under Armour, an American footwear and sportswear manufacturer is employing artificial intelligence and 3D printing through its partnership with AutoDesk to come up with a unique sneaker, which is printed and not stitched. The AutoDesk’s machine learning AI estimates everything from the durability of the sneakers to how the final product would look like. After finalizing everything, the sneaker design is then sent for 3D printing.
Verifying the Originality
Entrupy, a product authentication technology provider, uses AI to identify fake Nike and Adidas sneakers in seconds. It uses Legit Check Tech (LCT) solution to authenticate if the sneakers are real or counterfeit. When a shoe is put inside the product, LCT uses eight cameras to take pictures of sneakers from multiple angles. Then the photos are uploaded automatically after pairing with the real ones in the corresponding app in the users’ phones. AI helps analyze the photos by detecting if the tag number of the shoe is available in the manufacturer’s database. The counterfeits are identified in case the tag number is not present in the manufacturer’s database.
AI as Coach
Now we also have Artificial Intelligence coaches, e.g., Runvi shoes, AI-running coach that analyzes the way one moves. These shoes contain a total of 30 pressure points in its two soles and an accelerator that collects data on how an individual runs. Then the data is sent to the Core, which is a removable part of the insole, dubbed as Brain center of the shoe. It also powers the sensors and logs and stores the data before sending it to a smartphone. After the data reaches the smartphone, the app begins ‘coaching’ session by giving tips and hints in real-time to improve one’s form and prevent injuries.
Similarly, another startup, Boltt, developed shoes ‘B’ that uses AI to provide personalized dynamic audio feedback based on users’ real-time performance and training. The shoes’ central AI intelligence is built via a complex integration of rules, algorithms, and machine learning. By tracking daily activity, including automatic detection of sleep/rest through the day, the AI coach helps users can stay on track with their fitness goals.
Meanwhile, GTX Corp, an IoT platform and global provider of GPS tracking and monitoring wearable and wandering assistive technology, has launched GPS enabled SmartSoles, to track the location of people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. It can also be used to track toddlers and kids using the new GPS Invisabelt. Another instance, Shoegazer, a prototype sneaker-spotting app, uses Artificial Intelligence to help you recognize the pair of trainers you just saw. In short, it is like ‘Shazam’ for shoes. When one points her phone at a pair of sneakers, the app’s image recognition and transfer learning inform the user about the make and model. In a shop, the app could be linked to an interactive mirror that displays the user wearing the shoes with perhaps some custom artwork as a background. Recently, a team of researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology has developed an AI-powered, smart insole that instantly turns any shoe into a portable gait-analysis laboratory. That’s a significant improvement over other AI gait-analysis tools, which are computationally intensive and require data to be recorded for later analysis.