Called the ‘Uneekbot’, the robot arm is being dubbed as the world’s smallest shoe factory.
In 2015, footwear brand Keen introduced a sandal – called Uneek – that’s held together by a single cord. Looking to make the manufacturing process as innovative and unique (no pun intended) as the shoe itself, the company partnered with tech solutions provider ‘House of Design’.
The result of their collaboration led to a pair of robotic arms that could weave together a sandal in just six minutes – about half the time it would usually take a human.
Here’s how the ‘Uneekbot’ works. The system consists of two robot arms, a few custom fixtures, and a tablet that serves as the machine’s remote. Once activated, the robots will select the proper coloured cord and start weaving it through the sole and lightweight upper.
A person will then check the work for quality, as well as add in the final components.
This revolutionary process not only makes production more efficient but also more eco-friendly. In Japan, for instance, customers can just fill up a form for their custom shoes and pick them up just half an hour later. That means lower excess waste and almost zero fossil fuel emissions associated with shipping.
“It not only allows us to deliver custom-made shoes in under 30 minutes but it brings the manufacturing process closer to the consumer, making it much more environmentally friendly, too,” Naoji Takeda, Keen’s brand manager in Japan, told Digital Trends.
And if you’re worried about people losing their jobs to machines, Keen claims that a completely robotic workforce isn’t economically feasible right now, so ‘Uneekbot’ won’t be taking over the entire production line – or the world – anytime soon.
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