Friday, February 17, 2017

Bipedalism, feet and shoes

Our ancestors have been walking upright (bipedal) for at least six million years. This is well supported by fossil evidence with the earliest bipedal footprints circa 3.66 million years ago, made by early hominids long before Homo sapiens, walked the Earth. The earliest indisputable evidence was found at Laetoli, close to Tanzania's Olduvai Gorge.

Some authorities believe there was a gradual transition from arboreal bipedalism to walking on the ground. This may have been forced upon tree dwellers due to changes in the geological landscape. Our early ancestors who lived in the tumultuous Rift Valley, were amidst unstable landscapes dotted with escarpments and crags. Living on the ground may have been a safer option particularly when climatic changes overtook.

Bipedal gait freed arms and hands for carrying and manipulating tools but exactly why and when standing upright on two feet started is shrouded in mystery. The scientific community remains divided but the long-standing and dominant theory suggests climate change several million years ago, was a key driver of the process. Our arboreal ancestors had to climb down from the trees to survive on the ground. These evolutionary processes meant there were several fundamental anatomical modifications to shift from four legs to two. The pelvis changed from being tall and flat from front to back to being much shorter and more bowl-shaped, giving better leverage for the muscles that move the hip in upright walking. The fossil record suggests the shift to walking on two legs might have occurred relatively early in our evolution.

The angle of the thigh bone changed to point inwards, bringing feet more directly under the centre of the bodies. Spines became more curved, forming a distinct S-shape and to facilitate body weight to lie over the hips and to cushion the brain while walking. Eventually the lower limbs also grew longer, allowing larger, more efficient steps. Feet too changed. Human toes became shorter and they line up with one another to create a lever to push off at the end of a step.

Standing allowed our ancestors to see over long grass to scan for predators and prey. The ancestral humans who were best at standing would have been more likely to survive and pass on their genes, so it is easy to imagine how natural selection could have resulted in a gradual shift from simply standing up briefly to permanently moving around in an upright posture.

Other researchers think standing upright helped our ancestors stay cool under the hot African sun. As a bonus, this idea might also help explain why our ancestors lost their hair to become naked apes. Standing up means only the top of the body needs to be protected with hair from the glare of the sun, while losing other body hair allows skin to cool more effectively in any breeze.

Recent 3 D analysis of early footprints reveal, the feet of our early ancestors made more than three million years ago, are not that different from the feet of today. Shoes it appears have had no adverse influence of the human foot.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Hyper Shoes : Pharaoh Athletics

Pharaoh Athletics, have produced a prototype motion-controlled shoe for athletes called Hyper Shoes To fund the project the company created a range of high-quality products, including t-shirts, hats, hoodies and tank tops, for online purchase. All proceeds from the sales will go towards Pharaoh Athletics' required target of $25,000 to make the first Hyper Shoes available for purchase.

The new motion-controlled shoes have been designed for play and training on grass or turf using technology that allows athletes to accelerate faster without expending added energy. According to the manufacturer, the wearer benefits from improved body posture, balance and ability to maneuver, as well as added protection from ankle injuries when executing sideways moves, stopping, or changing direction.

The Hyper Shoes are the creation of Mosimo Jones and have taken five years to develop. They contain a midsole chassis designed to hold the weight of the athlete and respond to extreme playing conditions. A secure heel cup and strategic cushioned padding for high pressure areas. Pharaoh Athletics are preparing to launch their Hyper Shoes late in 2017.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Coffee and sneakers

In Brisbane, there is a new coffee shop. Nothing particularly unusual in that, except the Street Lab Specialty Coffee is not just a simple cafĂ©, it’s a coffee dispensary, roaster and shoe outlet all rolled into one. Not just barista to serve but the cafe boasts of shelves of limited-edition sneakers imported from specialty suppliers. Street Lab Specialty Coffee caters to both coffee elite and sneakerheads, offering perfectly poured coffee and a stock of blue chip kicks. Street Lab Specialty Coffee, is at the Emporium, Shop 1, 1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Skinners: Revolutionary Ultraportable Footwear

Skinners Technologies is a European start-up company keen to promote vegan and barefoot friendly foot attire. Their new project, Ultraportable footwear, are heavy duty socks made with silver yarn and coated in a dual polymer waterproof plastic, with an odour-resistant Lycra infused upper designed to make them both comfortable and functional. The socks are also machine washable. Whilst the manufacturer does not suggest their socks are a replacement for shoes, they are durable enough to protect feet from broken glass. The company started mass production in autumn and are now available in more than 84 countries.

Snowflake Scale: Safer winter footwear

Every year, more than 20,000 Ontarians visit the emergency room due to injuries related to falling on ice or snow. A recent Toronto Public Health report revealed that over 40 per cent of those aged 35-59 years and 60 per cent of those aged 60-85 years said they would go out less as a way to cope with the winter weather. A team of researchers from the iDAPT labs at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network in Canada are working to keep people safer in winter by producing footwear to reduce the risk of slips and falls on ice.

The team has developed the Maximum Achievable Angle (MAA) Testing Method to validate slip resistant footwear on icy surfaces using real people in a simulated winter environment. With the help of WinterLab, an underground, state-of-the art research facility located at Toronto Rehab, researchers have tested the slip resistance of 98 winter boots, including both safety and casual footwear. Testing in WinterLab is completed on both bare ice and melting ice to simulate diverse outdoor surfaces. Combined with walking uphill and downhill, four conditions were tested for each pair of footwear. The overall score was based on the minimum performance over the four conditions.

From the published results, from the 98 differerent types of footwear tested only eight per cent met the minimum slip resistance standards set out by the MAA test. For the first time, consumers will have winter slip resistance ratings available when they purchase winter footwear. Ontario's accessibility guidelines specify a curb ramp of at most seven degrees. Footwear that achieves at least the minimum angle of seven degrees is awarded one snowflake. The 'snowflake' scale will be used to rate the slip-resistance of winter footwear.

Christina Agapakis: Toe cheese