Real Working Shoe Phones

Updated 3rd November 2009

The image gallery contains more images of the shoe phone, in both small screen size and high resolution for press.

The entire world has been waiting for decades with baited breath for the arrival of real, working shoe phone technology. You find that hard to believe? Would you believe that someone, somewhere, has been occassionally thinking about shoe phones? Well, the shoe phone finally lives, as you will discover below, and as you can hear for your self, here or here, or listen to an ABC interview which gets interrupted by the shoe phone ringing.

Listen to a radio interview conducted by shoe-phone!

The attention the shoe phone has generated has been quite flattering, including the production of shoe phones by others, resulting in an instructibles article and the first shoe phone on ebay. Perhaps what is most surprising is that no one had actually made a working shoe phone before. But now that cat has been let out of the bag ...

Upcoming Shoe Phone Events

The shoe phone will appear on or at:
  • On TV in Canada/USA again (probably some time in May)

Would you believe that a shoe phone is safer than metal cutlery?

Well, the Civil Aviation Authority thinks so. Post 9/11 we can't take metal cutlery into the cabin of a plane, but I have received authority to wear the shoe phone while flying from Adelaide, Australia to San Francisco, USA:

[Credit: Alasdair McLellan] There is a serious side to this stunt, in that as technology progresses ubiquitous computing will continue to become more common, and it is important that society understands what is and what is not possible, and how ubiquitous computing fits into a society that must also deal with issues such as our response to terrorism.

Remote Patient Care: The Serious Side Of Shoe Phones

A significant part of the shoe phone project is the potential medical applications, as summarised in this television report:

And also described in this Flinders University press release.

The medical applications of the shoe phone will be a project for final year student's at Flinders University's School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics.

With this shoe phone, I have had a number of media appearances and citations on the medical applications of shoe phone technology, including:

Notes About Previous "Shoe Phones"

Aside from the props used in the TV series, there have been other shoe phones, but I believe that none have been true "shoe phones", according to the following criteria:
  1. Wearable as a shoe; can be worn and walked in for several hours.
  2. Functional as a telephone; can receive, and preferably place telephone calls.
  3. Operates as a mobile telephone; does not require a wired connection to the telephone network.
Some particular examples that were not true shoe phones by this criteria include:
  • the KGB Shoe Trasmitter which was in use from the 1950s through to around 1970, i.e., while Get Smart was being aired (not a telephone, because it contains no means of reception).
  • the 1985 Guinness World Record Smallest Telephone (not a mobile telephone).
  • Shaq's Shoe Phone of 2005 (cannot be worn without breaking it).
  • The many shoe-shaped telephones on the market (not wearable as a shoe; not a mobile telephone).
The most interesting recent development I have seen is the 22nd of January 2009 report on smuggling mobile telephones into prisons in a variety of ways, including in the heels of shoes. While the covert nature does provide a parallel to functional shoe phones, the telephones were only transported in the shoes. Therefore, it is my belief that the following shoe phones represent the world's first real, and fully functional shoe phones.

Generation 2 Shoe Phone (all electronics distributed between two shoes)

Together with the Generation 1 shoe phone, this shoe phone was constructed as a prop for a church camp, after which I realised the potential medical applications of the shoe phone. I'll be uploading some more images of this shoe phone here in the near future, but for now, here are a few pictures. I have also created an instructable.

Generation 1 Shoe Phone (blue tooth headset in shoe; phone in pocket)

Read about it here, or check out the instructable.

Other Related Gadgets

I also made a cone of silence and a phone booth for the same event that the shoe phones were originally made.

The image gallery contains more images of the shoe phone, in both small screen size and high resolution for press.

Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephen.

PS: If you like the shoe phone, then you might also like my credit-card sized enigma machine made out of paper.

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