Science

Flashing LED shoelaces that activate with a click of the heel are created by experts


Ruby slippers for night-time runners: Glowing LED shoelaces that light up with a click of the heel promise to make joggers more visible to traffic

  • Experts managed to weave the LED lights into conventional-looking shoelaces  
  • They are activated by clicking the shoes together and start flashing 
  • It is hoped they will make people more visible and could become a fashion item   

The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown has seen more people than ever take to running outside to keep fit, but with the long winter nights, being visible is a priority. 

Experts from Nottingham Trent University have found a way to weave LED lights into shoelaces to help joggers be spotted. 

Each light is the size of a flea and is activated by the wearer channelling their inner Judy Garland and clicking their shoes together. 

The flashing laces are still in development and at the prototype stage, but could soon be brought to market.  

Experts from Nottingham Trent University have found a way to weave LED lights into shoelaces to help joggers be spotted

Experts from Nottingham Trent University have found a way to weave LED lights into shoelaces to help joggers be spotted

The lights are inside a waterproof resin to make them rain-resistant and also washable, while also flexible and strong enough to function as a normal shoelace. 

Textile experts at Nottingham Trent University created the device alongside engineering company QinetiQ, based in Farnborough.

‘These laces could become a very simple way for runners or cyclists to improve their visibility on dark winter nights,’ said Professor Tilak Dias, who leads the Advanced Textiles Research Group (ATRG) at NTU.  

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The academics also hope that, much like the flashy soles of children’s’ footwear, the vibrant lighting could become a fashion accessory. 

The lights are inside a waterproof resin to make them rain-resistant and also washable, while also flexible and strong enough to function as a normal shoelace

The lights are inside a waterproof resin to make them rain-resistant and also washable, while also flexible and strong enough to function as a normal shoelace

Until the LEDs are switched on, they look and behave just like normal shoelaces, as the electronics cannot be seen by the naked eye.

Dr Theodore Hughes-Riley, of the ATRG, said: ‘This technology shows how smart textiles can improve safety for athletes, but also how it can be used as a fashion accessory.

‘This technology could become very appealing to the market soon, as our research into optimising the smart textiles manufacturing process will enable industry to take a huge step forward to producing these kinds of electronic textiles for the consumer.’

Roya Ashayer-Soltani, a materials scientist and textiles expert at QinetiQ, said: ‘The current laces have real potential to make a great difference to the healthcare, athletic, leisure, defence and security industries. 

‘The potential future integration of other technologies onto the lace itself really opens up a world of possibilities for large impact.’

Each light is the size of a flea and are activated by the wearer channelling their inner Judy Garland (pictured) and clicking their shoes together

Each light is the size of a flea and are activated by the wearer channelling their inner Judy Garland (pictured) and clicking their shoes together

The famed sequined ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz allowed Dorothy to return home if she clicked her heels together three times, closed her eyes and said 'there's no place like home'

The famed sequined ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz allowed Dorothy to return home if she clicked her heels together three times, closed her eyes and said ‘there’s no place like home’

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