It’s a powerful idea that The Wizard of Oz had. However lost, frightened, or alone you may find yourself, just tap your shoes three times to find your way home. But would Dorothy have ever gotten lost if she had Google Maps? Who knows, Oz could have been two streets down from her Kansas farm!
Dominic Wilcox was drawn to Dorothy’s archetypal ruby slippers, and so in a commission for the Global Footprint Project, he realized the fantasy through technology. His Guide Me Home Shoes are fitted with a GPS, and each hides LEDs in their broguing. After destination coordinates are synced with a computer, the left shoe points the way, while the right shoe meters the walker’s progress.
Even though there were technical hurdles—an antenna hidden in the heel was blocked whenever someone wore the shoe, so it was repositioned to stick out the rear—it’s ultimately a whimsical idea with a whimsical inspiration. But Wilcox is known for designs that straddle practicality, oddity, and humor.
"I think it’s important that we enjoy using the tools we surround ourselves with each day," he tells me. "Technology is the closest thing we have to real magic. The possibilities are endless and I enjoy making things that innovate and surprise."
You might lament that his shoes have a dumber display than the average GPS map, but I’d argue that actually enhances their utility. It’s the shoe’s attenuation of information—their lack of street names, landmarks, and traffic information—that makes them so casually functional for someone just walking around the city or exploring a new place by foot.
Besides, no one was ever pegged a tourist for admiring their own kicks.
[Hat tip: Variations On Normal]