By Andrew Liszewski
Getting the chance to play with the latest high-tech gear is definitely one of the perks of the job when you write about gadgets for a living. But it’s no secret that here at OhGizmo! we have a soft spot for some of the weirder and wackier gizmos out there, and that’s probably what brings a lot of you back to our site every day.
A few weeks ago we brought you a set of unique light up shoelaces that harnessed the power of LEDs and fiber optics to make your boring old shoes seem like they came from the not-so-distant future. And besides fulfilling a few of your TRON fantasies, they also seemed like an easy and unique Halloween costume idea, so we figured we’d try ’em out and see how well they actually worked before the 31st rolls around. And it turns out they work surprisingly well! More after the jump…
Now don’t get me wrong here. When I say “surprisingly well” it’s not that I’m gobsmacked the laces actually work. It’s just that we’re all familiar with novelty items like this that promise one thing on the website, but turn out to suck when you actually get them in hand. Thankfully that’s not the case here. Each package comes with a set of fiber optic laces and an LED lighting unit which is also used to secure the laces once they’re tightened. The fiber optic material is actually a relatively thin clear plastic tube that’s extremely flexible, and while installing them on a pair of shoes is no where as easy as installing a regular pair of laces, it’s not that much of a challenge.
And while they’re easily flexible enough to allow you to lace a pair of shoes any way you want, I’d actually recommend doing it while wearing the shoe since the grippy nature of the soft plastic laces does make them a little difficult to tighten afterwards. Again, it’s not an impossible task, it’s just not as easy as grabbing the ends of the laces and yanking. Not surprisingly you’ll probably want to use a little TLC with them.
Once laced, instead of tying a knot you thread the ends of the fiber optics through this battery-powered LED lighting unit which also serves to secure the laces using a couple of locking levers on top. On one hand it would be nice if the laces didn’t require this unit sitting on top of your shoe at all times, but on the other it is an easy to way to secure them without having to try and tie a knot which could be a little difficult with the fiber optic cable.
And since it sits near the top of your shoe it’s easy to hide under a baggy pair of pants. Unless you’re a hipster and don’t have any in your wardrobe, then you’ll just have to suck it up or convince all your friends to get them too.
And I decided against shooting and posting a video of them in action, but the white power button on each lighting unit actually toggles between three different lighting modes including always-on, flashing slow and flashing fast. Cycling through the modes (including off) just requires you to hit the power button multiple times, and it’s an easy way to draw even more attention to yourself if you feel the static glowing of your laces isn’t attracting enough eyeballs.
And that’s pretty much it. Depending on the number of holes on your shoe and the style of lacing you choose, you might end up with a bit of extra slack after lacing them up. As you can see with the yellow pair of laces used on the Adidas ‘Pumpkin’ sneakers there wasn’t a lot of slack left over afterwards, but with the red pair used on my brother’s custom Super Mario Vans, there was a considerable amount left over resulting in the larger loops seen in this photo.
As for how they look, the glowing effect is definitely noticeable even indoors in a brightly lit room, but obviously they look considerably more impressive in a darkened environment, particularly on a dark shoe providing lots of contrast. The yellow version is definitely the most subtle of the color options, but surprisingly looked like Adidas should have actually included them with their ‘Pumpkin’ sneaks they matched so well. But if subtlety isn’t your thing (and really NO one will be buying these for subtlety) the green and blue colors will definitely make you stand out the most.
The laces are available in 4 different colors from Lite Bright Raves including the yellow and red pairs used in the photos I took, as well as a green and blue option for $9.95 a pair. And since the color is only dictated by the color of the LED used in the lighting unit, there’s even a multicolor option for an extra $4.99 which I assume cycles through the aforementioned colors. Now I can’t say for sure if they’ll arrive in time for Halloween given it’s less than a week away, but I’m sure if you order a green and red set for the holidays you’ll have them in time for Santa’s arrival.
+ Makes any pair of laced shoes extra awesome.
+ At $9.95/pair they’re relatively cheap and almost an impulse buy.
– Slightly more difficult to thread and tighten than regular shoelaces.
– Kind of sucks that even your shoelaces will need fresh batteries every once in a while.
LED Light Up Shoelaces – $9.95
If you have any questions about the Light Up Shoelaces you’d like answered, please feel free to leave them in the comments, and I’ll try to respond to them as best I can.