Puma Trying ‘Smart Shoes” Once Again After They Failed 3 Decades Ago

Wearables are an important part of the technology scene from smart watches to fitness trackers to smart glasses. We think of it as a more-recent technology, but the fact is the Puma athletic shoe company tried “smart shoes” three decades ago, only for them to fail. Now they’re going to try them again.

Puma in the 1980s

In 1986 Puma thought it could be coming up with a new technology, before the term “wearables” was even in use. They were referred to as RS shoes (short for “Running System”) and were definitely futuristic but in a different way than Marty McFly’s shoes in the 80s film “Back to the Future II.”

They tracked workout statistics, very much like a fitness tracker bracelet, something that Nike has already been doing. They track workout times and distance traveled, as well as an energy expenditure estimation.

In order to access the stats, you needed to connect the back of the shoes to a computer. Three decades ago these shoes were not popular, but perhaps this is just technology that people weren’t ready for just yet.

Puma in 2018

The reissue of Puma’s smart shoe is much different. Gone is the need to connect the shoes to a computer โ€“ now they will connect via Bluetooth. They’ll track an entire month of activity and will have a tiny display and hardware buttons on the back of the right shoe. A press of a button will produce a readout on the display.

Puma believes the shoes will be much more popular than they were in the 80s. They aren’t chasing an idea that is hard to fathom โ€“ instead this is a technology that the public is more than ready to accept.


Nevertheless, Puma is only producing 86 pairs of the smart shoes. They’ll be so rare that the company is individually numbering them, making them into collector’s items, much like what has probably happened with the originals. But you have to appreciate the throwback of the number โ€“ “86.”

The shoes went on sale on December 13 in Tokyo, Berlin, and London, though you can also try to buy a pair online from a Puma retail partner, but with only 86 available overall, they may be hard to find.


Puma’s smart shoes are the very picture of the phrase “ahead of their time.” They simply devised a product that wasn’t the most convenient due to a lack of technology at the time and something that wasn’t conceivable.

After all, in 1986 computers weren’t even in the majority of homes and were objects just a few people used. We also didn’t carry a mall computer hooked to a phone on our person at all times. The product seemed like either something Marty McFly should be wearing or something from the 60s cartoon “The Jetsons.”

Will Puma’s new smart sneakers be more popular? It’s hard to think they will be with only 86 being produced, but maybe they’re hoping it will create a market for them.

Let us know in the comments if you would be interested in the new and improved Puma smart shoes.

Image Credit: BGR and TechSpot

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Laura Tucker
Laura Tucker

Laura hails from the Chicago area and has been a writer and editor covering news, entertainment, and technology for nearly 20 years and has been with Onlinetivity since its inception, editing and covering news. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring new devices and mobile apps.