WHAT: “Sneakairs” from British airline EasyJet are Bluetooth-enabled vibrating sneakers that sync to a Google Maps-driven app on your phone to provide turn-by-turn navigation without transforming your vacation self into a screen-staring zombie.
WHY WE CARE: The next frontier of wearables may not be watches, or step-counters that look almost, kinda-sorta like they were designed by someone with a functioning sense of style. Rather than ostentatious wearables that confirm to the world that your wrist wear can communicate with the Internet, we’re probably going to be moving in the direction of connected clothing and accessories that provide limited functionality, but also that look like things you’d be wearing anyway.
While the “Sneakairs” may never be released to the public (EasyJet hasn’t commented on when they’ll be available, anyway), but if they’re road-testing the concept so that, say, Adidas can make their own sneakers that incorporate technology to make getting around new cities 20% easier, then we’re navigating to a future where “wearables” are much more mundane, much more fashionable, and much more useful. That’s something that can (and will) extend well beyond footwear, too–Google and Levi’s announced a connected jean jacket as part of Levi’s “Commuter” line for urban cyclists, and it’s safe to say that this is probably where we’re headed. Smart shoes that look like regular shoes are a small step–especially if it’s just an airline PR gimmick for now–but they’re definitely leading us in the right direction.