Growing up at my old dance studio, I remember my tap teacher putting these scratchy old records on (yes, our studio still, somehow, had a record player, circa 2003) and giving us a barre for tap basics. A woman’s voice would command us to execute flaps, shuffles, you name it—before commanding us to tap-soutenu in order to flip around to do the other side. New robotic socks that claim to be able to teach you ballroom basics tell me just how far removed we are from tap dance records, eh?
The socks were designed by two master’s students at Saarland University in Germany, Pascal Ziegler and Maike Maas. Sensor pressures and vibration motors (!) guide your feet, via an app. A vibration felt in your heel, for example, means that you should step forward. When you make a mistake, the inventors note (somewhat mysteriously) that “negative feedback is provided.” Also noted: “It is possible to dance in the socks for several minutes without making a mistake.”
If this sounds too weird to picture, watch this video to get a better idea: