Innovation Sighting – Smart Floors

by Drew Boyd

Smart TextilesIn a world where gravity is ever present, floors are essential. We spend most of our waking hours standing or walking on them. But we tend to ignore them. That is a pity given the nearly constant contact we have with them. What if the floor could be innovated? What could it do for us that it doesn’t do today?

Here is an innovative technology worth standing up for. Future-Shape GmbH, a German technology startup, has developed Sens-Floor, a layer of textile sensors that monitor human movement and can be installed underneath almost any type of flooring. The product works by sending a small electrical charge through a conductive fabric containing integrated sensor plates and radio modules. When someone walks over a sensor, a small change in charge capacity triggers the system. The company offers a few suggested applications such as home security, activating room lights, and monitoring the elderly.

However, to reach its full potential, innovating with the Attribute Dependency template will link this technology to many more things that take place on a floor. Imagine, for example, the floor can detect a specific person (through body weight, foot size, etc) to activate things in the room related to that person (lighting preferences, sounds, smells…anything with an “on” button). Taking it further, imagine the floor can keep track of how many people are on the floor and what they are doing (standing, dancing, sitting, etc). The floor can tell a party host when it’s time to serve dinner or to enliven the party with different music. Think of the sports applications – score keeping in tennis, required elements in gymnastics, or basketball three second violations. What about retail store applications? The floor could keep track of customer movements – where they shop, where they stop, and how they go from product to product. Perhaps the floor can detect when to raise prices on popular items or drop prices on a slow ones.

The company calls its core product, Smart Textiles, and this idea is embedded in its other products. To make them truly smart, it will take a bit more work on the application side. As an investment, Future-Shape might be an excellent “ground floor” opportunity.

Drew BoydDrew Boyd is Director of Marketing Mastery for Johnson & Johnson (Ethicon Endo-Surgery division). He is also Visiting Assistant Professor of Marketing and Innovation at the University of Cincinnati and Executive Director of the MS-Marketing program. Follow him at and at

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