WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
The technology to create personalised, perfectly fitting clothing, or orthopedics, exists and it provides retailers and manufacturers with new market opportunities but the customer experience has to be as frictionless as possible.
The proliferation of 3D printing has made it possible to manufacture almost anything to our exact specifications – from prosthetics and braces to hearts and . Furthermore, the printing materials they use are getting cheaper and more diversified by the day, creating an almost unlimited number of opportunities for makers and manufacturers. But unfortunately, many of these items still require expensive, precise, room sized scanners that most of us simply don’t have access to. The democratization of 3D scanning technology is inevitable, but what if you didn’t have to wait for the revolution to begin?
A startup called Wiivv Wearables is among of the first to recruit your smartphone to moonlight as a 3D scanner and it captures over 200 data points to help create your perfect insole – helping to maximize comfort, reduce pain and promote healthy alignment. It may sound a bit niche but the business of orthotics is a $4.5 billion industry and growing and that makes this suddenly much more interesting.
The magic is in Wiivv’s foot capture technology, which allows you to create a 3D model of your feet using nothing but your smartphone. Wiivv’s app guides you through the whole process, which takes just a few minutes. From there, you can customize your insole with different colours, designs and even your name. Then, a week later, they’ll arrive at your door.
The resulting insole, which could one day also incorporate a number of printed sensors, is made of Nylon 12 – the same material used for traditional custom insoles, and it can be slipped easily into running shoes, dress shoes, or casual shoes. And, at a cost of $75, it’s also significantly cheaper than traditional custom orthotics, which often range from $300 to $600 per pair. And best of all they’re comfortable, because they’re a perfect fit.
Wiivv founders Louis-Victor Jadavji and Shamil Hargovan eventually want to create body perfect gear ranging from apparel to orthopedics, but existing technology made insoles the best place to start. They also afford Wiivv an opportunity test and optimize their proprietary system, from capturing and receiving the photographs to printing and shipping the final product.
With custom insoles proven to “significantly reduce joint load of the knee and hip at 30 percent gait cycle,” according to Geoffrey Desmoulin, president of GTD Engineering, Wiivv’s insoles are another example of how modern technology is improving people’s lives. With 3D printing steadily gaining traction and moving into more mainstream applications, it will be exciting to see future applications of this simple, yet transformative technology.