What is Tech-Augmented Footwear? Explaining a New, Sustainable Category of Wearable Device

As of 2022, the global footwear market had an estimated worth of over 380 billion dollars

Considering the colossal value, it's likely no surprise that the industry's environmental impact is equally massive, with 95% of shoe products ending up in the trash, amounting to about 25 billion pairs of shoes in landfills each year. Meanwhile, additional studies show that 25% of American adults are not getting enough exercise, and almost a third of all people in the United States are considered obese.

This is serious data with critical implications for our personal health, climate sustainability, and global longevity. Footwear companies have an ethical imperative to support wearers' well-being and to do so in a way that simultaneously supports our planet. That’s why Baliston is leveraging cutting-edge tech-augmented footwear and an innovative, sustainable business model to do exactly that.


Beyond just fitness tracking data


Counting daily steps has become an active, healthy lifestyle barometer. The origin of this step tracking for health and wellness purposes dates back to 1965 when a Japanese company made a fitness device called Manpo-kei, or "10,000 steps meter." Since then, wearable technology and activity trackers have become more sophisticated, distinguishing between different types of activity, monitoring speed and distance, and more.

Even with these new capabilities, the result is often the same. These devices are only able to provide users with raw quantitative data—numbers and figures that users themselves must discern, contextualize, and frame into actionable fitness and health interventions.

Calling Baliston shoes ‘tech-augmented’ means they do more than provide quantitative stats, they help act as a personal wellness coach designed to help users move more, move better, and move more comfortably. Connected to the Baliston Connect™ App, sophisticated AI algorithms synthesize biomechanical data captured through cutting-edge sensor technology embedded comfortably in the shoe. Qualitative biometrics about your walking DNA are provided daily and contextualized with personalized insights and recommendations for the user to understand ways to reduce fatigue, back pain, and injury risk.

For consumers who pay for a premium membership, Baliston’s gait-analysis technology extends its value even further. Once the sensors collect the appropriate amount of biomechanical intel—about 50 percent of the way through the shoe’s lifespan—Baliston will deliver a supportive, comfort insole fitted specifically for the wearer’s gait profile.


The most accurate biometrics


Baliston also delivers precision—metrics for lower limb movement that are measured directly at the feet are inherently more accurate than those captured at the wrists or hands. Beyond standard activity tracking metrics like steps, distance, and stairs climbed, additional metrics include stride length, heel impact, propulsion, symmetry, an overall Walking Quality Score, and more. Wearers are guided through strategies to improve their Walking Quality Score, and as they proceed along the user journey, they unlock more detailed gate-analysis on items like pronation, supination, musculature engagement, and joint mobility.


Designing more than just a smart shoe product


Most companies classify what they produce for consumers simply as products. Regarding footwear, a 2018 study found that footwear accounts for 16-32% of the total pollution in the apparel sector.. To avoid participating in this cycle and to help limit the waste, Baliston designed more than just a shoe product—Baliston offers an ecosystem that will drive physical health and environmental change.

When you buy a pair of Baliston shoes, you participate in Baliston's commitment to a minimalist footprint. Baliston shoes are crafted with only five sustainable, biobased materials, constructed in a way so that the entire shoe can be efficiently recycled. And while other companies may ask users to recycle shoes, Baliston has taken on the recycling responsibility and built the infrastructure needed to ensure it happens.


Sustainability made easy


The shoe recycling process is built into Baliston’s business model. Leveraging sophisticated algorithms and users' individual data, Baliston Connect™ monitors the wear of the cushioning in the sole of the shoe and notifies users when it is time for a replacement.

Baliston even provides a prepaid return shipping label so consumers can easily ship their old pair to the logistics center where they are disassembled, and the materials are picked up by third-party raw material manufacturers who recycle them into components for new Baliston shoes. Since not all the recycled materials can be repurposed specifically for Baliston shoes, manufacturers will reuse the other materials for different products so to avoid downcycling – the repurposing of material into a new product of lower quality.

In the meantime, those who pay for a premium membership receive a fresh pair of shoes, in their choice of color, along with a new comfort fitted insole based on how they walk once the cushioning in the shoe’s sole goes below 50 percent – all at no additional cost.

So as the cycle continues with Baliston, you're not just buying into a shoe product. You're participating in a footwear revolution that helps improve your walk, your health, and our planet.


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