LightUp Shoes++

Majeed Kazemitabaar, Sriram Karthik Badam
Github page

LightUp Shoes++ are the next generation of LightUp Shoes. They may look like shoes and fit like shoes, but they do a lot more. They light up when you walk, show your step count, and play music when you reach some milestones. We hacked the sensors on a light-up shoe and attached it with a 7-segment display and a speaker to create the LightUp Shoes++. Now, walking is more fun than usual!

Idea Brainstorm

A few of our ideas for this project,
  • Beyblades: We thought of modifying a beyblade, spinning top popularized by a Japanese anime of the same name. Our idea was to take an electronic beyblade that has some primitive spin control features (like the one in the link), and add more features such as flashing lights, collision/clash detection to play sounds, and control its direction of movement.
  • Yoyo: Similar to the Beyblade idea, we wanted to modify a yoyo. The idea was to add electronic components to a normal yoyo to flash lights, play music, and essentially add features to impress people with some mad yoyo skills. We decided against it because we both don't have these mad yoyo skills.
  • Toy train set: The idea was to modify a children's train set. We thought of adding components that can automatically attach and detach cargo from the train.
  • Bathtub toys: We wanted to play with a rubber duck. We thought of transforming it into a duck that can change colors while you are in a bathtub. It can also turn red in hot water, blue in cold water, and become white the longer it stays in the tub.
  • Learning toys: The idea was to modify add more logic to a kid or a baby's toy (like the one shown in class) and make it more fun. For example, for the Baby's first blocks toy, we can add a logic to see how many blocks have been matched (and are inside the box), and use music to help the baby match colors and shapes.

Artifact Description and Breakdown

We chose to use the light-up shoes because we both felt that it will be a cool thing to hack. We found a pair on Amazon, and opened them up. We tested the sensor embedded in the shoe and identified the number of pulses it creates when you walk. The light-up shoe, that we used, blinked the LED three times for each step you take. So, we connected it to an Arduino, came up with an algorithm to identify the pulses without any noise (by smoothing), and created a step counter. We used a 7-segment display to show the step count and a speaker to play music for every five and ten steps.


Materials and Parts

Describe the Part's Role In Your Project
Total Cost
Arduino Pro Mini
Used to read the steps from the shoe, display step count, and play music
Light-up Sneaker
Light-up shoe that we used as the main artifact (to break) in this project
7-segment display
Used to display the sensor readings
Thin Speaker
Used to play sounds
FTDI Basic Breakout
Used to program the Arduino Mini
Used to power the Arduino
Wiring, resistors, & other basic materials
Used to hook everything up



final shoes.JPG




  • The first challenge was to understand how the light-up shoe works. It was fairly simple after we connected it to a multimeter. We found that it was a hit sensor that gives three voltage peaks when hit with a surface. However, we also found that when you hit it twice very fast, it gives less than 6 peaks; which means it doesn't light up too much while running.
  • The second (and major) challenge was to come up with an algorithm to count the steps from the readings given by the sensor. The basic algorithm was to convert three peaks into one step. In order to apply this, we had to figure out the frequency of peaks to avoid multiple counts when we walk fast. We played around with different values for identify the time interval for the high signal (brute force) and finally had a working prototype of a step counter. We also had to perform smoothing by averaging out every ten sensor readings to avoid random noise.

Future Work Ideas

  • Show the walking speed by finding the distance through an acceleration sensor and a gyroscrope combination (described in this link). However, this is prone to high inaccuracies.
  • Play music based on the walking/running patterns. When you are running fast, you can hear some motivating music.
  • Play a game with the shoe. We already have a sensor, display, and music. So, we thought that creating a game for this tangible would be a good idea, however we ran out of time.


  • The project was a lot of fun. We wish we had more time to spend on it because there are lot of things we can do. Also, why don't they make light-up shoes for adults?
  • We felt that we were lacking more inspiration for the project because there were only a fixed set of things we could think of such as adding display and music based on some play rules for a toy.


Adafruit 7-segment backpack library - link