The Shift Sneaker — a +rehabstudio hack week

Nov 18, 2015 · 3 min read

The smart surface sneaker with a design you control

We hacked the Sneaker and explored the possibilities behind how technology will one day inform its design.


Culture has moved faster than Sneaker design itself. With wearable technology no longer just a thing of the future, we wanted to imagine how it could revolutionise a future sneaker’s design and function.

The Idea

We hacked the trusty sneaker and dared to imagine the future of apparel through smart-tech materials such as conductive and reactive fibers. Created with an intelligent membrane or ‘smart surface’ that thinks and reacts to external stimuli, the sneaker’s design can be transformed through the tap of a smartphone or the click of a heel.

Shift Sneaker users will be able to shift sneaker style and functionality by downloading different ‘packs’ from a Pack Store — a sneaker-specific app store. Styles will range from subtle glows to animated graphics from world leading designers and creatives, and rare limited editions from artists and brands.

The design of the sneaker’s smart-surface fuses tech-apparel materials that currently only have industrial applications including: woven LED strips that could act as a malleable flexi screen to display the Shift designs; conductive fibres that pass electrical pulses, detect human touch and act as an anti-static surface; and thermochromic fabrics which use chemical micro-reactions to produce an apparent change in colour at specific temperatures.

The smart surface has also been concepted with materials that have been forecasted but not currently in existence including:

  • Phase Change fibers and Shape Memory materials that enable interchangeability between designs, locking chosen patterns to the sneakers
  • Meta Materials that manipulate fabric tissue allowing properties which bend light particles and adapt to variables such as surface or temperature
  • Conductive threads woven into the sneaker membrane, pass electrical signals that react to the human touch whilst miniature LEDs act as a malleable flexi-screen which ultimately display the Shift designs
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