Pairing up

Written by: Eureka! | Published:

We’ve all been there, you’re on your way out to a posh do and you need your best shoes, the ones that only ever see the light of day at the occasional wedding. But, where are they?

You curse the fact you keep forgetting to buy a shoe rack as you delve through a mountainous pile of shoes in the cupboard under the stairs. Finally, the left one is found! But the right one is nowhere to be seen? Shouldn’t this be easier?

The challenge

This month’s challenge is to come up with a high-tech way to keep your shoes in pairs, or at least make them easier to find. Perhaps a sensor-based – Internet of Shoes (IoS) – system is the way to go, or some sort of imaging technology? If you must go for a design based on a shoe rack, at least over-engineer it to be something like a robotic multi-storey car park or something.


The solution to last month’s challenge to devise an automated way to keep your shoes in pairs, or house/office/workspace tidy comes from Nissan. Inspired by its ProPILOT Park autonomous parking technology, first introduced on the Nissan LEAF in Japan in October 2017, the car maker partnered with a Japanese inn – or ryokan – to make life easier for the guests and hotel staff.

At the ‘ProPILOT Park Ryokan’ the guests’ slippers are self-parking. Rigged with a special version of the autonomous parking technology, when not in use, they automatically return to their designated spots with the push of a button. Even the tables and cushions in the rooms are rigged to realign themselves.

Nissan even offered a free night at the ProPILOT Park Ryokan for one lucky pair of travellers. Visitors to the Nissan Global Headquarters Gallery in Yokohama can also experience the technology from the ProPILOT Ryokan and try on the actual self-parking slippers at a dedicated exhibition booth.

A video of the ProPILOT Park Ryokan can be viewed on Nissan’s YouTube channel.


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Coffee Time Challenge is just a bit of fun, but it is based on a real engineering solution. If you send in your ideas by using the comment button below, we can add your solution as an alternative – perhaps something funny, practical, cheap or, of course, innovative.

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