The age of the ‘quantifiable self’ is truly upon us. Now an average person can clock everything from his/her heart rate to steps taken, and calories burnt using an array of wearable ranging from wristbands to smart T-shirts. That list got a new addition when Indian company Ducere Technologies finally launched the retail version of its Lechal shoes, “the world’s first haptic based interactive footwear”.
What is Lechal?
Lechal is a pair of wearable pods that go inside or on your shoe to track steps and calories burnt while also helping you with navigation. The latter part comes from the fact that this product is actually a spinoff of something created for the benefit of the visually impaired. The pods work in tandem with the Lechal app that lets you calibrate the pods, track steps and calories and initiate navigation.
How does Lechal work?
Lechal comes in the form of two rectangular pods, about the size of your watch dial. They can be slipped inside the insoles or buckles that come in the package. For regular shoes, you can pull out the existing insoles, cut the Lechal insoles as per your size and push them inside the shoe. The other option is to weave the lace holders into your shoe and use them to hold the pods. The pods are charged using a small dock that comes with a USB charger.
Lechal has an app, which lets you configure the pods according to the leg or shoe type it is being used on. It also lets you select a specific activity to monitor. There’s a map feature as well, where you can enter the destination to which you plan to navigate on foot.
Price: Rs 6,999 (Now available at Rs 4,999)
The overall experience is good, especially since a wearable on a shoe is out of sight and hence out of mind. It keeps adding data and you don’t really need to bother with it.
Lechal is accurate in data collection, and the steps more or less matched with what was showing on the Apple Watch. The navigation is a good feature for those who need it and works in the most basic way — the left shoe buzzes if you are supposed to take a left turn, and right shoe for right. I didn’t find a use for this at the moment.
The battery life on the Lechal is very good, giving well over a week on a single charge. That is a good place to be in as a wearable these days. Also the charging dock is simple and convenient.
What is not that good?
The insoles are not a good idea. The Lechal insoles are thicker than any insole you will find in a shoe. So using it in place of the default insole just makes the shoe uncomfortable. I preferred to use the pod on the lace holder, which is very sturdy and holds the pods firmly in place.
Also, if you keep pulling out the insoles every week or so to charge the pods under it, the chances are you will end up wrecking the shoe as well as the insole. So use the insole for those occasions when you don’t want people to see the pod. Avoid the insoles if you are going to catch and flight and have airport security to clear.
Should you buy?
Yes, if you are looking for a wearable that works and doesn’t interfere with your lifestyle. This is also a good option for those who actually need some help with navigation because of some impairment. The good thing is that Lechal is not really expensive.