Gamers now have a new reason to wear shoes indoors.
A new footwear solution allows them to “feel” the sounds of their favorite video games through the soles of their feet, lending a multi-sensory experience to the act of game play.
Launched on Wednesday, DropLabs’ EP01 sneaker integrates proprietary technology into the shoe’s midsole, converting audio input into vibrations via Bluetooth. Helmed by former Beats by Dre CEO Susan Paley, the product aims to bring tactile stimulation to auditory and visual experiences.
The product’s applications extend beyond gaming, said Paley, who propelled Beats by Dre to its apex, making it the No. 1 headphone globally. Wearers can feel the coordinated, nuanced vibrations while listening to music or using meditation apps, too. Designed for everyday wear, the shoe combines a flyknit textile upper with an EVA and rubber sole, which is highly platformed due to the technology nestled inside.
“The shoes provide a more immersive experience for gaming,” Paley told Sourcing Journal. “For the first time, gamers can feel what they see—the grip of their tires on the road, the difference between grass, concrete, and water under their feet, the gravity of explosions around them, and more,” she added.
And DropLabs’ first iteration is merely a jumping-off point, she said. The company is working with a mix of e-sports athletes, hard-core gamers and developers to build out APIs for its development kit, which will allow game creators to integrate “the feeling of sound” into their offerings to consumers.
The EP01 sneaker is sourced from China, Paley said. She admitted that it was a challenge marrying the shoe’s delicate and precise electronic components with a soft good like footwear, and that she ran into issues in finding a suitable manufacturing partner. Despite having braved uncharted waters with the product, Paley believes the brand has come away with a wearable silhouette with potential mass appeal.
And though there are multiple potential applications for DropLabs’ technology, Paley insists that the brand isn’t out to make “wearables.”
“We’re pioneering possibilities for tech that are sensory—not data-driven—because, in reality, feelings are greater than metrics,” she said in a statement.