Soft Shoe Routine

When we travel, our mode of transportation is almost as important as our destination. Whether we're on our own two feet or seated aboard a jumbo jet, our level of comfort during travel can affect our health. Although shoe designs have changed, the need for a pair that is both functional and aesthetically-pleasing has remained constant. Recently, cutting-edge technologies have been meeting this need in a variety of unexpected ways.

My Adidas

For someone embarking on their first workout, simply choosing the right gear can be a daunting task. People frequently find themselves faced with a seemingly endless array of options. Of course, the choice is clear when the shoe is custom-made for your foot.

custom-made shoe
Image via Gizmodo.

One of the largest shoemakers in the world wants to make you a shoe designed to fit like a glove. Adidas has partnered with Belgian manufacturer Materialise to create a new custom running shoe, the FutureCraft 3D. This 3D-printed shoe is designed to fit the specs of the user's foot. According to a recent press release, the shoe "creates a flexible, fully breathable carbon copy of the athlete's own footprint, matching exact contours and pressure points." Although Adidas' shoe comes after that of rival Nike, which allows for 3D shoe-printing in one's own home, the FutureCraft 3D is the first to be designed around the user.

Nature Walk

There's no shortage of environmentally-friendly clothing materials. Nevertheless, it can be a task to find clothing that is not only environmentally-friendly, but strong and comfortable. That was the challenge one French shoe company decided to face head-on.

shoes on rocky terrain
Image via Wired

Sébastien Kopp and Francois Ghislain Morillion founded Veja in the mid-2000s with the sole purpose of creating athletic shoes in an ethically responsible way, using fair-trade labor and environmentally-friendly materials to create them. The company makes their shoes in their factory in Brazil and emphasizes making them visually appealing for potential buyers. As a reporter for Wired magazine put it, "Veja's brand of eco-friendly doesn't look eco-friendly."

Long Journey Ahead

We humans have been tinkering with shoes almost as long as we've been able to walk. The practicality of shoes makes them a perfect target for technological innovation. Ubiquitous as shoes are, their technological evolution will doubtless be felt the world over.

Modern Day Mapping

The practical purpose of maps has often overshadowed their artistic value. Maps are meant to be easy-to-read guides that lead you from Point A to Point B. At the same time, their design is the work of skilled illustrators taking great pains to make the maps not only practical, but visually appealing as well.

As technology advances and borders are redrawn, it's tempting to think of old maps as obsolete relics. But they provide a fascinating look at the world as it once existed, and the illustrative methods that were once considered state of the art. The following two stories show us how far we've come and perhaps provide a glimpse of what lies ahead.

Course Plotter

There are few people in the United States who can read an atlas as well as John Hessler can. A cartography expert for the Library of Congress, he's made it his life's work to chart the evolution of the visual guides that humans have used to get around. One of the most important things he's discovered is that the visual design of a map is just as important as the geographical data it represents.

Ptolemy Map
Image via Wired.

"What we're looking at whenever we're looking at a map is an abstraction," Hessler says. "Really what we're doing is like any visual art or design; were taking extreme complexity that takes place in the real world and abstracting it to simple visual images that help us understand complex interactions." Hessler showcases a great deal of his knowledge in the new Phaidon Publishing book Map: Exploring the World. The book collects over three hundred historical maps from all over the world.

Big Apple on the Tree

Although the isle of Manhattan is renowned for being a hub of cultural change, its place as a hub of geographical change can sometimes prove controversial. Both historians and casual New Yorkers have wondered what it would be like to see The Big Apple before the skyscrapers were built. Thanks to the Wildlife Conservation Society, you can.

Green Manhattan
Image via Mental Floss.

The Welikia Project is a digital experiment by the WCS which takes satellite images of modern-day Manhattan and replaces them with realistic visualizations of how they would have looked in years past. This allows users to see the city covered entirely with flora and fauna.

It's impossible to predict how maps may be used in the distant future, because it's impossible to know what new areas will be discovered next. But, then, part of the fun of looking at maps is documenting how far you've come.

The Environmental Impact of 3D Printers

We're very excited about 3D printers. Not only are they building everything from pizza to heart models, but they could also be the future of consumer printing around the world. That being said, we have also started to wonder some of the environmental impacts these printers have. The printers are notoriously slow to make products, taking several hours even for basic objects. How does this impact environmental sustainability? We wanted to use a recent study to give you the most up-to-date information.

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