Mythbusters’ Jamie Hyneman Backs Treadmill Shoes Crowdfunding Effort

by Ian Hamilton • November 7th, 2017

We’ve seen a number of hardware-based attempts to simulate movement through large virtual spaces, but none have really taken the world by storm. Omnidirectional treadmills, for example, are typically very large and extremely expensive.

A new effort backed by Mythbusters’ Jamie Hyneman is looking to raise $50,000 on Indiegogo to produce a more advanced prototype of “electric shoes” that essentially put the treadmill directly into footwear. Unlike many crowdfunding projects, however, this effort doesn’t promise to deliver the finished product to backers. Instead, they are offering a Hyneman-branded survival kit starting at the $75 backing tier.  The fundraising is just to support the development of an improved prototype and the $50,000 goal is fixed, meaning they don’t get any money unless the goal is reached before the fundraising period ends in December.

As is the standard warning for crowdfunding projects — creating hardware is extremely difficult so give your money over with caution. The fixed goal implies they know a certain amount is needed to make progress with their idea and under the risks section of the project page it says “we don’t want anyone to be misled.”

“These shoes will be difficult,” the page reads. “There is a reason nothing like them exists.”

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  • TDUBS

    I’ve thought about making this exact same thing. I’m pretty sure anyone who’s thought about this problem has. I don’t think it’ll work tbh.

    • PK

      i don’t know how well this will work either, but i really hope they get funded. my idea for a while has been shoes with little balls underneath, that are are controlled by code that can translate virtual movements perfectly to your feet. this sort of tech to me seemed at least a decade away to really pull off, but hey if they start something like this now it could be sooner.

  • 13penguins

    As is this design couldn’t work. Nobody takes steps parallel to their feet, and sidesteps wouldn’t work either. There might be potential for zero motion shoes, but not with this first pass design. Looking forward to what the next iteration looks like though.

  • James Friedman

    Interesting, you are not actually purchasing any of these within the campaign, but instead get a gift card and an opportunity to purchase when/if they come available, That is actually the smart way to run a campaign that is still in the design stages. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. This way if it just doesn’t work at all you still get a gift card to purchase something else.