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Seven Mile Boots

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January 20, 2004

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Seven League Boots are the stuff of fairy stories but a new design known as "Seven Mile Boots" is aiming to assist the wearer travel virtually whilst strolling around a city.

Sitting somewhere between performance and experiential art, Seven Mile Boots are interactive shoes with audio. One can wear the boots, and walk around simultaneousy in the physical world and in the literal world of the internet. By walking in the physical world one may suddenly encounter a group of people chatting in real time in the virtual world. The chats are heard as a spoken text coming from the boots. The concept is that whenever you wear the boots, the physical and the virtual worlds will merge together.

Chatting on the net has become a phenomenon during the last decade. The seven-mile-boots are intended as an interface to move within this text-based non-space of the chatrooms. The boots have two different modes; walking through the net and standing/ listening/ observing the chat-activity.

When walking, the boots seek a new selection of channels from the net. The boots contain all the necessary technology and the user does not control or influence the experience - there's a computer with wireless network, sensors, amplifiers and loudspeakers. The boots are ready to function in any location with an open wireless network, though poresumably you'll need some sort of filter for public places where the chat room contents may not be suitable to be read aloud by your boots in a public place.

The boots are intended to shift the viewpoint from the physical to the conceptual, focusing on the ordinary everyday activities and desires of people and offer a perspective into the processes, which are an inherent part of our current lifestyle.

When the user is wearing the seven-mile-boots and standing still s/he can listen several chat rooms simultaneously becoming a super-voyeur, and able to search in several places and observe various situations simultaneously in the net.

After putting on the boots they start looking for active chat channels. When the user walks around s/he can locate a chat activity through audio. S/he will hear himself passing through a group of chatters or s/he can decide to stop for closer observation. The boots log into the chat rooms automatically under the name of "sevenmileboots".

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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