Poorly fitting shoes can ruin a whole day.
In an effort to avert the agony of wrong-sized shoes and make it
easier to be shod online or through a catalog, Costa Mesa-based
FormaLogix is combining digital cameras, computers and people's feet.
FormaLogix founder Andrew Hanscom noticed over the years that
different styles and brands of shoes fit differently, a dilemma he
now illustrates with an array of shoes laid out on his desk. A
Converse sneaker is a size 10 1/2 ; several of the shoes are size 12;
and a Nike is a size 13.
"All of those shoes fit my feet, and therein lies the problem,"
His company developed technology that precisely measures a
person's foot and uses a computer to show how various shoes would fit
"We actually take a three-dimensional image of your foot," Hanscom
said. "We turn it into a digital form and we match that with a
three-dimensional image of the inside of the shoe."
It just takes a few seconds. You take off your shoes, step onto a
Plexiglas-floored kiosk, position your feet, and in moments they've
been digitally photographed about 150 times. That information has
also been combined into a picture of your foot soles with length and
width measurements to a tenth of a millimeter.
The results are displayed on the kiosk's touch-screen computer,
and they can be surprising. Many people find their feet are not quite
the same size, Hanscom said. Shoe shoppers can then display the
styles they like on the screen and see what size would best fit their
It takes most of the "try" out of trying on shoes, and it works
well for children rarely sure of their shoe size, said Brent
McKendry, FormaLogix vice president of product management.
"People will walk into a store and try on five different pairs of
shoes before they get it right," McKendry said. "That's not an ideal
experience for the customer."
Hanscom's shoe-fitting kiosk is being test-marketed in the Foot
Locker at South Coast Plaza and one of the chain's New York stores,
and the company is talking with the U.S. military about using it to
fit boots. But Hanscom thought farther ahead than in-store uses for
The kiosks for retail stores save the data on every customer's
feet and download it into a database that FormaLogix maintains. It
can then be accessed from any kiosk or online, so people buying from
the Internet can tell how a shoe will fit without trying it on.
After almost a year in business, FormaLogix is poised to take off,
with more kiosks expected to hit Foot Locker stores later this year.
The company has 14 employees, most of whom deal with the technology
side of the product. For now, construction of the kiosks is
outsourced to a manufacturer in Irvine.
Since the South Coast Plaza kiosk was installed at the beginning
of July, more than 4,200 scans have been recorded.