Let's get something out of the way: these shoes on Indiegogo don't look real yet and may never be real, but they're a great idea. The ShiftWear sneakers look like a minimalist pair of Air Jordans, until you realize the sides are made of a flexible e-paper display like the kind you'd find on a Kindle. The designs on the display can be altered via a smartphone app to feature different graphics and illustrations — even ones you illustrate yourself — and ShiftWear hopes users will create a mobile marketplace of shapeshifting shoe styles. It's a clever and cool-looking combination of technology and fashion — an area that's been dominated by unattractive and mostly unnecessary wearables thus far.
Of course, the shoes don't exist yet. New York-based ShiftWear is using its Indiegogo campaign to help finish its prototype, so we don't know for sure if this type of flexible e-paper display could reliably work sandwiched in between layers of synthetic material. We've seen some interesting prototypes with flexible e-paper displays before, like the Wove bendable smartwatch, but nothing like this. ShiftWear even acknowledges that "the existing technologies suffer from certain issues and we are working to solve them." ShiftWear wrote that it can't disclose any aspect of the shoes' development, citing trade secretes and competition.
Still, Shiftwear seems confident. It's taking preorders for three different styles of shoe for $150, $250, and $350 on Indiegogo with a delivery date of fall 2016, and project creator David Coelho says Shiftwear has a forthcoming flagship store in New York City. Five people have even put down $1,000 each for a limited edition pair with an even larger e-paper display encasing most of the shoe, while more than 300 backers have paid nearly $75,000 for cheaper models. So if you're a sneaker head who's been dying to scoop up some next-gen shoes and don't mind taking on a slight financial risk, Shiftwear may be your only option.