Dynamically changing shoe design for increased traction and control on various surfaces

Case ID:

A mechanism to dynamically control the outsole of a shoe to react to the ground surface. The outsole of the shoe was integrated with a novel Micro-Mechanical Actuation System (MMAS) to actuate multi-textured shoe treads.


According to the 2017 Outdoor Participation report created by The Outdoor Foundation, 144.4 million Americans, or 48.8% of the US population, participated in an outdoor activity at least once in 2016 and outdoor participation grew from 48.4% in 2015 to 48.8% in 2016. This represents an addition of 2 million U.S. outdoor participants. With half the population participating in outdoor activities such as running, hiking, backpacking, and more, improvements to shoe adaptability and capability are in higher demand.

Currently, smart shoe options include high traction shoes, ice shoe grips that are to be worn over an existing shoe, gait analysis, real-time location tracking, bodyweight distribution, ambient environmental sensors, and internal status sensors for smart shoe battery and memory capacity. 


Safety concerns for those who participate in outdoor activities in a variety of terrains have prompted the University of Nevada, Reno researchers to design a shoe that can help prevent fall injury. Common causes of slips include wet or oily surfaces, occasional spills, weather hazards, and flooring, or other walking surfaces that do not have some degree of traction in all areas. This novel mechanism can dynamically control the outsole of a shoe to adapt to the wearer’s activities would allow for safer participation in outdoor recreations as well as provide users with an all in one shoe that is able to be used in a multitude of environments.


  • The navigation algorithm and Micro-Mechanical Actuation System would provide a reliable visual aid to assist individuals in the safe navigation of walkways.
  • The design proposed may be used in combination with other smart shoe technologies.
  • The sensors provide for automatic detection and reaction to the ground surface.
  • This mechanism would be useful in fields such as fitness, health, athletic, and medical. Additionally, it would prove beneficial to those with visual impairments.

Intellectual Property

US Provisional Application filed 04/08/2020


Partnership Opportunity

This innovation will be available for licensing. The University of Nevada, Reno is seeking parties interested in collaborating to further develop, evaluate, or commercialize this technology.

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Ray Siripirom
Senior Licensing Associate
University of Nevada, Reno
Arpith Siddaiah
Pradeep Menezes