Consumers may have heard of 3D printed shoes, but 3D printed insoles? They’re here! SOLS is a wearable tech startup that uses biometric technology and 3D printing to create custom insoles–and that is just the beginning of their plan. We asked Kegan Schouwenburg, SOLS founder, to tell us more.
SOLS is a premium, contemporary lifestyle brand pioneering customization on a mass scale and redesigning movement via 3D printing technology. At SOLS, we believe products made for the body should be as unique as the individual. With computer vision and machine learning techniques, we’ve been able to support that belief, building a product that is able to respond to the unique needs of each individual foot.
Within the SOLS brand, you’ll see two product lines, the first stemming from our roots in the medical community, is called SOLS Rx–a corrective orthotic device currently available at more than 650 podiatrists across the country. Most recently, we’ve introduced SOLS Flex–our first ever, direct-to-consumer product available via an iOS app.
What was your inspiration behind creating SOLS?
The inspiration for SOLS comes from a combination of two significant experiences. On one side, I grew up wearing orthotics. Not only were they weird, but they also meant not being able to wear the shoes I wanted to wear. On the other side, I’ve been experimenting with 3D printing since college–moving on to work as the Director of Industrial Engineering at Shapeways, a 3D printing company. I remember thinking: What market is no one looking at? What application is no one addressing? Why is it 2014, and my feet still hurt? Shouldn’t someone have fixed this by now? I knew at that moment that if we were to build something on a mass scale, it wasn’t going to be about customizing the outside of shoes, it was going to be from the inside out. [Editor’s note: An important part of the future of wearable tech is that it will work with things we already have. This extensibility is demonstrated by SOLS–love that!]
Tell us about the technology used in your app and also in the 3D printing of SOLS.
The SOLS technology effectively connects the dots between the digital and physical worlds. The process is made possible via statistical shape modeling, computer vision and advanced manufacturing. From three images of an individual’s foot on our iOS app, a team of engineers pull thousands of data points – building a 3D model of the insole that meets the wearer’s unique makeup. The insoles are then printed and finished with various topcoats – closing the digital loop to create a physical product completely custom to the wearer.
What value does SOLS have that makes it stand out against other startups in the space?
Until now, truly custom orthotics have been inaccessible and unaffordable to many individuals who could/would benefit from them greatly due to the limitations of the traditional manufacturing processes. With the SOLS app, mobile process and 3D technology, we are not only able to design and create for an individual and lifestyle, but also perform this process at scale. SOLS is creating the next generation of products leading to a true application of 3D printing/modeling, thus ushering in the world of mass customization of the human body.
Where can we buy your products and what is the cost?
SOLS can be purchased via our recently launched iPhone app – currently available in the Apple App Store.
Where do you see SOLS in the future? Do you have any specific ideas about future products or segments you would like to target?
Today, we’re bringing this concept to footwear through dynamic 3D printed insoles engineered to change the way the world moves. Tomorrow, SOLS will lead the industry in mass customization on a global scale – across categories and beyond footwear. Our mission is to redesign the way we move. With innovation in mind, we strive toward a future in which products empower the individual to move freely and unleash his or her full potential.
Learn more about SOLS by visiting their website here and watching the video below.
Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.