New system uses RFID tech to keep track of your ... socks?
By Ben Coxworth
September 26, 2012
If you’re someone who can afford really fancy socks, then it’s entirely possible that you might not want to “lower” yourself to the act of going into a store to buy them. That’s why Switzerland’s BLACKSOCKS started its Sockscription system, in which users regularly receive premium new Italian socks by mail. It doesn’t stop there, however. The company is now offering Smarter Socks, which communicate with the user’s iPhone to deliver the, um ... ultimate sock-sorting experience.
Each individual sock comes with an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip attached to the cuff. Stored on that chip is the sock’s unique ID number. The Smarter Socks system also includes an RFID scanner, and a free iPhone app.
After a load of the socks have been washed, the user (or their maid, perhaps) scans the chip on each sock. The scanner sends the data by Bluetooth to the iPhone, which is running the app. That app proceeds to tell the user how old the sock is, whether it’s for the left or right foot, how many times it’s been washed, and which sock is its partner. Once its partner is located and scanned, the app updates the number of washings for the pair.
One thing that isn’t immediately clear, however, is how the user is supposed to pair the socks back together. The app may tell them the ID number of a given sock’s partner, but will they remember that number when they see it, several socks later? Presumably, that’s been addressed.
Something that has been addressed is the problem of disappearing socks. Should an individual sock go AWOL or get destroyed, the app allows its partner to be newly-paired with another single sock. Thank goodness.
Also, as any goth will tell you, black clothing has a way of fading to dark grey over repeated washings. The Smarter Socks app has that covered, with a Blackometer function. Using the iPhone’s camera, it measures the “blackness” of an individual Smarter Sock – or of any black sock, for that matter. It then tells the user if the sock is still black enough to wear, or if doing so will make them look like a commoner.
A starter kit, consisting of ten pairs of calf socks and a scanner, is available now for US$189. More information on the system is available in the video below.