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Traction Soles

Firm grip shoe bottoms that can be attached to any shoe.

Photo of Nesibe İrem Erdem
24 10

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Who is your idea designed for and how does it enable older adults to live their best possible life by preventing falls?

Everyone with cheap slippery soled shoes including elders, that want a firmer grip.

 People may not have the luxury to buy expensive shoes with firm grip to floor, may not like the looks of those shoes, or have access to those kind of elders' shoes. Separate soles that can be sticked or gripped  to the bottom of any shoe can fix the situation anc convert any shoe to safe shoes. 

It would not be just for elders but for everyone, so it won't create stigma. 

They can be in different colors and for different types of shoes. 

I found this example of slippers turning into outside shoes with soles, though only spesific to this shoe. 

And another example for al shoes,, though not looking so chic for prefering to wear them.

The floor grip is important issue with preventing elders to fall. Also the front tip having a curve would be good for preventing fall in case of tripping on a bump on the road. 

There are various product for preventing slipping in the market. Most commonly there are the non-slip pads for sticking partially under the shoe. This is for flat bottomed shoes like high heels or leather shoes. It is basically a silicone surface with a texture. Its a good solution but it doesn't give a firm grip to ground and handle bumps on the road, it just gives more friction to only the most slippery shoes, and they come off in time.
Similarly there are rubber slippers that one can wear over the shoe, which again creates more friction but is still flat and can't handle bumps. Moreover these slip-on alternatives mess up the looks of the shoes so it contributes to stigma and is less preferable.
Another close example are the ice-grippers. There are many alternatives to these grippers. Mostly they interfere with the looks of the shoe because they hold on from above since they aim to be temporary and thus detachable.
In my research I didn't see a ready-made product similar to what I'm aiming at: a bumpy bottom that can handle bumps on the road, that can be attached easily and not come off again, and don't interfere with the looks of the shoe.
The result this product provides can be achieved in other ways like bringing your shoes to a shoe-maker and have the bottoms changed or send it back to the companies who give this service. The upside of this method is that it gets professionally done. The downsides are that this way is much more expensive, the maintenance might cost a couple more times than the shoe, and the economically sensitive crowd won't choose this way; besides it is not so common so not a lot of people think to do it even if they can afford it. 

This product would be a ready-made alternative that overcomes these shortcomings and the user can handle by themselves easily, at an acceptable price. 

I ve searched for a number of alternatives for the sticking agent. My intention was that lt filled the cavities in both the bottom of shoe and top of the seperate sole. Filling material for wood constructions does the job efficiently but its really messy. My colorless alternative was cold silicone. 

Before sticking anything i tried on different shoes with different shapes of soles: 


The sole fits to most shoe bottoms. I was worried that it would have a square look but it actually turned out pretty quirky in a nice way.  Even with the sandals. The feedback from people suggested that most of the shoes looked even better with the traction soles as it gave the looks of it some weight, thus quality.  

The soles i used were one size larger than the shoes (except one) but the same size would do better as i observed. Its best that the sole is a bit larger on the sides and not on the length. 

The sole having a cavity instead of a flat surface had many benefits. The sides could flex to hold and cover different shapes of bottoms. This is also good for covering up the silicone and have a professional look. The pic below shows the sandal on flat sole and the one below shows how it fits into the sole with cavity. Also the second one shows how it don't fit perfectly but leave empty spaces on the sole. Tight flexible sides can be the solution for this. 

And of course not all models fit. But this one already had a safe grip bottom, so maybe thars why the wide bottom. 

The soles that i used were thick and this gave the shoes a bit rise and also some weight.  A thinner or less denser alternative coul8d be less weight.

For the sticking agent i had this solution: the top of the cavity on the sole would be closed with sth like aluminum. The silicone would be injected through a small hole on the side, so the agent wouldnt contact air and react untill the lid aluminum was removed. Once removed one could put their shoe on the sole and wait for some minutes. But as i was trying to plug the shoes into the soles i got certain that it would be too messy and hard that way. So the next best solution seems like, injecting the silicon from a specfic hole once the two parts are fitted together by the user.

So I was impatient to try this but this is how the silicon reacted after half an hour of sticking. It took some strength to pull it out but i was able to. The fixing time for silicone is initially 15 min and later on up to 2 days to completely solidify. Now it was still wet when i removed it. 

The front tip is normal with these soles, but the production would have high, surrounding front tip to prevent tackling on bumps. 

Some feedback i got was like this:

"I would want to try this first with my worst shoes. Because i might not do it well. And the soles will go in vain if i do it with my worst shoes since i don't wear them. "

"I wish there were no glue in this. I hate getting sticky. "

"Really nice and seems easy. Would be better if i could remove it when i want though. This is like sacrifice. Maybe changing colors once in a while would be good as well"

"I can do it but very very old people may not. Some loved one would have to do this for them. "

"I like how the shoes changed to be more powerful. They dont seem ordinary and cheap anymore. "

"This is good way to spice up the shoe wardrobe without paying an ocean for it"

"I don't know about safe grip but it seems this wah is much more comfortabe than flat bottoms. It would resist rain and cold also." 

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Get some existing shoe soles for shoe making and turn them into attachable prototypes and try it on with different shoes, get feedback from people.

What skills, input, or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

What might be different chemichals, or ways to stick a sole to the bottom of a shoe, without extending from sides?

How long has your idea existed?

  • 0-3 months

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

Tell us about your work experience:

Product designer interested in positive impact design.

How would you describe this idea while in an elevator with someone?

"You know why we fall is a lot related with what we wear to walk. If we wear a shoe with a proper grip to the ground, it would reduce the risk by nearly 40%. But those good bottoms are only there with boots and those ugly and expensive sports shoes right? That's why we made traction soles. Now you can attach them to any of your beautifully designed daily shoes and have a better walk.

How does your idea demonstrate our Criteria of Affordability?

Traction soles makes a safer walk a lot more affordable and much easier to access for the individuals who will use them. One would get a pair of these soles at any related store and attach them to their shoes of the like. It wouldn't nearly be as expensive as getting all your shoes with good bottoms, and with a good design to it as well. These soles are practical not just for the elders, but for all people and this would contribute to the product being more widely spread and affordable.

How does your idea demonstrate or plan to demonstrate scalability?

Locally, producing and distributing it to stores and have sales online is still a heavy way for scaling up the reaching limit of the product in a short time. But the idea of a product is very lightweight, it can be transmitted very easily. The product can be licensed to relative companies in the world for them to produce and sell in their already existing distribution channels. This would be a much faster way for the product to reach as many people as possible.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

Research for user feedback (questionnaires about using the product), analyzing the number and quality of sales (weather the same user comes back for more with an appreciation and faith for the usefulness of the product).

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

Getting the intellectual property rights or the product, finding knowledgeable partners for realizing this project, contacting potential producers worldwide.


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