Inventor of the Week Archive
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The "Smart Shoe"
Ronald S. Demon has invented an athletic shoe whose cushion
support automatically adjusts to suit not only the shape of
the wearer's feet but also the manner in which the shoe is
being used at any given time.
Demon grew up in Miami, where his youthful pursuits included basketball and computer
software. It was the latter interest that brought him to MIT
as a freshman in the fall of 1995. In the following semesters
and summers, Demon worked on a number of computer projects,
at MIT's Edgerton Center and Media Lab and at Intel Corp. Here
he furthered his expertise in digital graphics, photography
and video, and in Java applications such as applets.
In the meantime, Demon was finishing up a long-term project. While still in high school, he had bought a pair of the first Reebok athletic shoes to feature pumped-air cushioning and support. Demon was quickly disillusioned: like many people, he found that "the pump" involved more effort and less effect than he had hoped. Unlike most people, however, he decided to build a better model himself.
Demon designed a shoe whose sole has a number of separate but interconnected pockets, or bladders, filled with a shock-absorbent fluid. Using his computer skills, he then wired sensors from each of the bladders into a computer chip. Demon programmed the chip to regulate the flow of fluid among the bladders through tiny valves, according to the amount and position of force applied by the feet while the shoes are being worn. This "Variable Capacitance Pressure Zone System" ensures that the shoes continuously provide the maximum cushioning effect. Demon's "Smart Shoe" has the potential to provide a new level of comfort and performance in footwear --- especially that used by athletes, hikers, exercisers, and persons with orthopedic and other medical complaints.
Demon had already built a working prototype before arriving at MIT (1995), and had even created a multi-media CD-ROM to promote his new invention. Last fall (1998), Demon secured US patent #5,813,142 for his "Shoe Sole with an Adjustable Support Pattern." Recently, he founded a company, VectraSense Technologies, to bring his Smart Shoes to market. Demon continues to field test and refine his product; and now, with the patent in hand, he is discussing strategic partnerships with a number of shoe companies, including Reebok. And due to the shoes' therapeutic potential, podiatrists are also showing a keen interest.
Demon's other inventions include personalized search engine technology, and a Virtual Server (his Undergraduate Thesis project). After graduating with a BS in Computer Science in June of this year (1999) as a patented inventor and company founder, Ronald Demon can look forward to a long and successful career in the high tech business world.