Wahu shoes feature user-adjustable pneumatic cushioning tech
Shoes with lots of cushioning may be nice and comfy, but they're not necessarily ideal for all situations. Wahu shoes are designed with that fact in mind, as their built-in pneumatic cushioning system can be switched between three different levels as needed.
We first heard about Wahu back in 2020, when the Milan-based startup was trying to license its technology to other, larger shoe manufacturers. Now the company has forged ahead with its own house-brand shoes, which are currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign.
Each shoe features a miniature air compressor built into the heel, which is linked to an interconnected set of air cavities in the sole. When air is pumped into those cavities, each one pushes a separate rubber cleat outward, creating a cushion between that cleat and the wearer's foot.
Subsequently releasing some or all of the air makes that cushion smaller, or eliminates it altogether.
Users control the compressors via an accompanying iOS/Android app, which allows them to choose between no cushioning (0 bar), maximum cushioning (2.5 bar/36 psi), and a half-way-between compromise. The idea is that more cushioning can be selected for times when comfort is most important – such as when standing or walking for long periods – while less cushioning can be selected when rigidity, responsiveness and agility are more important.
Thanks to integrated pressure, acceleration and rotational-angle sensors in the shoes, the app can also be used to track distance walked, and to provide suggestions on how to improve your gait. One wireless charge of each shoe's lithium battery should reportedly be good for about 14 hours of use, based on approximately 20 adjustments being made within that time.
There's currently no word on what happens when the shoes wear out, although Wahu has stated that a plug-in/plug-out system allows for "maintenance, repair, and optimized recyclability."
Assuming they reach production, a pledge of US$173 will get you a pair of Wahu shoes – the planned retail price is $270. You can see them in cleat-pumping action, in the video below.