Good news for those of you cursed with two left feet.
Pascal Ziegler and Maike Mass, Masters students at Saarland University in Germany, have built wearable devices that attach to socks and teach dancing.
According to Ziegler’s website, the socks are a prototype for an interactive dancing shoe that he and Mass are working on.
Each sock is equipped with pressure sensors and vibration motors that monitor and guide the wearer’s feet movement.
The devices are controlled by an application running on Android, and the correct steps are indicated by vibration signals aimed at different parts of the foot. For example, if the wearer receives a vibration in the back of the heel, this is an indication to step forward.
Zeigler says they decided to equip five foot locations with vibration motors, as these were the places that haptic signals could be distinguished most clearly.
Rather ominously, he also adds that if a user makes a mistake or gets out of sync, “negative feedback is provided”. It’s unclear what that feedback is, but I like to imagine it’s a rather nasty electric shock.
All right, let’s see these puppies in action. Take it away, robot socks!
Well, that was… weird. Apart from being damn precise, I’m going to give the lads full marks for using Steely Dan’s ‘Chain Lightning’ slowed down about 50 per cent. That’s a bizarre and inspired musical choice, guys – not exactly what you’d call ‘dancing music’, but interesting nonetheless.
The socks were made as part of an effort to reduce the workload of dancing teachers, who previously struggled to pay attention to every damn foot. Zeigler hopes their creation will help “pair dancing students and teachers to learn easier, less frustrating and more funny”.
Being the generous fellows that they are, Zeigeler and Mass have provided full instructions for how you can make your own robotic dancing socks on the Instructables website.
For those who won’t get their mitts on these babies soon, we got you covered. Check out this video, in which James Brown teaches essential moves like the Bugaloo, the Camel Walk, and – my personal favorite – the Funky Chicken.