Innovation That Matters

Mobile robot factory stitches sandals on demand

Work & Lifestyle

Shoe manufacturing company is touring the world with a robotic arm that can make a shoe in half the time of a human.


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The Uneek sandal from Keen Footwear broke the mould when it was released in 2015, as it is constructed with a single cord that weaves through the sole. It looks unique and instantly found a market with people looking for something comfortable but with an original style.

Two years on and Keen are innovating again, and have created what they’re calling ‘the world’s smallest shoe factory’, which is a 15×5-foot box containing two robotic arms (named Uneekbots) and the rest of the tools needed to make a Uneek sandal. As you can see from the video below, the two arms work in perfect synchronization to weave the sandal quickly and efficiently. In fact, the factory can finish the automated segment of the sandal making in around six minutes, which is have the time of a human.

Customers can choose the color for the upper, sole, cord, eye stays, heel strap, and any flat or round bungee cord. The company have been taking their minute factory on a worldwide promotion tour, starting with Germany, Japan and the US.

There’s a lot happening in the world of robots recently. Researchers in Belgium have developed a robot made from a material that can repair itself when damaged, and – also from Belgium – a team from the university of Antwerp have invented a robotic hand that can read sign language. Are we getting ever closer to a world where robotics in the household is a reality?



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