Why measure feet with iPads?

Now every time a child’s foot is measured with the device, be it in a Clarks store in the Bahamas, or China, the anonymous data is fed back live to Clarks’s HQ in Somerset, feeding a growing database, for shoe specialists to scrutinize. The HQ is a converted factory building – a factory that used to house Clarks’s shoe manufacturing operation, which has since moved to China. The building now houses a vast research and development facility. Here traditional cobblers carve wooden models, alongside colleagues using 3D printers. Upstairs, armies of smartly turned out buyers examine endless rows of shoes to second guess the next season’s fashions. Tucked away in the corner of this warehouse sits Scott Godley, a project manager closely involved in the iPad project. On his desktop computer a spreadsheet spools out the latest batch of global foot data coming in from the army of iPads. He recalls the older, simpler method of collecting data – used until last year. “Periodically, maybe every ten years, we’d do a foot survey.” This involved sending a man in a van, a foot specialist, driving around schools and shoe shops in the UK, taking a random sample of foot sizes.

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