Southern Arizona | Investigating 4 You

Future of Running Shoes—3-D Technology and Smart Shoe Design

Advancements in technology allow us to personalize shopping in ways unimaginable a few years ago. From clothing to cosmetics and even nutritional supplements, products and services are curated just for you! Why should running shoes be any different?

Over the last 100 years, running shoes have gone through some amazing transformations. In the 1920s, 30s and 40s, European companies put spikes on the bottom of traditional leather shoes to increase traction for track athletes. In the late 1970s, a crafty running coach in Oregon used a waffle iron to create a cushioned sole and the first Nike Waffle Trainer was born. More recent innovations in materials and design have enabled more and more people to run comfortably, faster and with fewer injuries.

What’s next?

How about a shoe created just for you? We’re closer than you might think. Since introducing FitID in 2017, Fleet Feet offers a personal fitting service like no other. FitID takes a 3D scan of customers’ feet, providing necessary measurements and information for Fleet Feet’s expert staff to recommend the best footwear. “FitID gives us that 3D picture of your foot in five seconds, and we can see exactly how wide the foot is, how high the arch is and the length of the foot,” explains Anne Stancil, owner of Fleet Feet Tucson. Taking this technology one step further, Karhu International, a running shoe company based in Finland, uses Fleet Feet’s FitID data to design shoes. Karhu was one of the first pioneers of running shoe technology back in the 1920s. Finnish runners like Paavo Nurmi and Emil Zatopek dominated on the track, winning medal after medal wearing Karhu shoes.

In 2018 Karhu released the Ikoni, the first running shoe created using data from Fleet Feet’s FitID foot scans. To develop the Ikoni, Karhu used data points of over 100,000 customer scans. “These scans helped to create a 3D mold which serves as the basis for shoe construction and accounts for shoe dimensions including heel width, instep height and toe box depth, among other points,” says Stancil.

The future?

Moving forward, companies like Karhu will continue to personalize options. As Stancil explains, “As technology improves, it will allow for custom-made insoles and shoes based on customer data contained in her or his FitID scan. While this is still a few years off, we currently offer the most personal shoe shopping experience you’ve ever had at Fleet Feet.”

Running shoes have come a long way since those early models. Today, there are even “smart” shoes with chips and sensors that compile data on how you run and what changes you can make to improve your form. Like Karhu and Fleet Feet’s Ikoni, there’s always going to be something new on the horizon that runners are going to want to try to make their next run their best run.

Fleet Feet Tucson has the perfect shoes for every pair of feet. Step into one of their two locations to try on a pair today! Or for more information visit or call (520) 886-7800.

Our Locations


7301 E. Tanque Verde Road
Tucson, AZ 85715
Phone: 520-886-7800

Oro Valley

7607 N. Oracle Rd.
Oro Valley, AZ 85704
Phone: 520-219-2323

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