These Ballet Shoes Will Track Your Dance #WearableWednesday

November 05, 2014 Leslie Birch


I remember my early years in ballet class, struggling to incorporate graceful hands and turned out feet. Then, it got even further complicated when I was put on pointe, as balance became critical. That’s why I can appreciate this pair of shoes that I spied on Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World.

This project, E-TRACES, is a final project for Lesia Trubat, attending ELISAVA in Barcelona. These shoes have a mission.

The concept of Electronic Traces is based on capturing dance movements and transforming them into visual sensations through the use of new technologies.

Using a Lilypad Arduino, an accelerometer and some pressure sensors, the shoes are able to collect information about the dancer’s movements. Not only do they record the path and contact points of the dancer, but they also transmit the data to a mobile device. It’s more than just a line drawing.

The user can then view all the moves made in video format, extract images and even print them. Dancers can interpret their own movements and correct them or compare them with the movements of other dancers, as graphs created with motion may be the same or different depending on the type of movements executed and the correction of the steps and body position.

The obvious use is choreography, but having had a few dancer friends over the years, I can tell you that the data collected might be even more meaningful for injury prevention. Incorrect movement  in ballet can lead to sprains, stress fractures and other things that would put a lead in Swan Lake at risk. In fact, it might be helpful to have a sensor worn near the knee areas to determine alignment, as well. Lesia mentions that the same technology could translate into other areas, and I definitely see gymnastics as another great category.

If you are a ballet fan, check out Lesia’s prototype on her website. Want to make your own shoes? Start with our learning guide on the FLORA Accelerometer. Then, branch out to learn about Force Sensitive Resistors, which you will need on the bottom of your shoes. We are always up for a success story, and don’t forget to send us your dance video — it’s almost Nutcracker season.

Flora breadboard is Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!