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Interview with Steve Kaufman, creator and owner of Quikiks Hands-Free Shoes.

Steve Kaufman has created a shoe that is completely hands free and is in hospital trials for its reduction in falls rates.

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The idea for Quikiks Hands-Free Shoes stemmed from a father’s desire to solve a problem he and his family faced everyday. Kaufman’s son’s suffered from scoliosis and wore a brace for four years - during a critical time of teenage development and self-esteem. At fourteen years, old Kaufman’s son was embarrassed and humiliated that he could not put on his own shoes. In efforts to re-establish confidence in his son the idea to create shoes that automatically fastened was birthed.

In our interview began with Kaufman describing his challenging journey from creating the mechanism to finding a shoe manufacturer who could actually re-produce the device in a shoe form.  He explained that, “Finding a footwear manufacturer was difficult - it took years.” He found that the, “Challenge was incorporating the mechanism itself, which was not complicated, in the regimented production process of footwear.”  He initially tried to find a manufacturer here in the US, but was unable to secure one who could include the specificity of the device within a shoe design. He then tried to accomplish the same thing with a manufacturer in China.  Unfortunately, this also proved futile after several failed prototypes and their unresponsiveness to make changes.  Finally, Kaufman was able to locate a manufacturer that was able to include the automatic fastening mechanism within a shoe design.

A newcomer to the footwear world, Kaufman also relied on the talents of shoe designers in New York City.  He worked with several different designers who were able to create multiple prototypes that he could show to manufactures and at industry conferences as well. 

One of the largest conferences Kaufman participates in is Aging 2.0, which is based in San Francisco.  This organization helps promote new technologies for wellness and independence of elderly. They also offer a global startup challenge across its individual chapters.  Kaufman’s Quikiks Hands-Free Shoe actually won in the New York challenge and was presented and demoted at the grand 2.0 San Francisco conference.

From the exposure and demand Quikiks has received Kaufman realized that his design not only solved a problem for those with scoliosis, but those with chronic back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and elderly who were prone to falling. He discovered his shoes impacted “Huge amount of people suffering from [his] parents and parents autistic children - the spectrum of people was so broad.” With this realization, his mission evolved from solving one person’s problem, to tackling the 34 billion dollar cost for falls our country experiences each year.  He noted that “By solving an everyday problem for my son I impacted his independence and self-esteem...Now, I want Quikiks to improve the general quality of life for all.”  

On fall prevention, Kaufman shared, “I believe that actual prevention has to take on a physical form, education and exercise is important, but not as effective in the moment.” He goes on to say, “You can have sensors, which help alert your family if you have fallen, but how is that going to prevent the fall from actually happening?” 

In the closing of our interview Kaufman shared that Quikiks is currently working with medical centers to develop a testing protocol for the shoes and are establishing clinical trials showing the reduction of falls while wearing the shoes in a pool of people. Both are presently under board review. Some new and fresh designs are also in the works at Quikiks as they strive to aid in fall prevention while providing everyday footwear. 

See more at http://www.quikiks.com/ 


What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Learning the process of creating shoes designed for the elderly or those with other health issues can help us dissect what is required to produce technologically advanced products that will aid in fall prevention.

Tell us about your work experience:

NYU Steinhardt Graduate Student.

Inspired by (1)

B-Shoe

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