And I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more, to be the gal who walked a thousand miles to review at your door.

Disclaimer: I have not walked 1,000 miles. As possibly the last person in the tech world without a FitBit or similar, and relying solely on the really inaccurate guesses of another app that also thinks it logs walking distance as well as my own estimations of distance travelled, I have no real idea how many miles I logged last week walking around Belgium. But I do know that on the low-ball end I walked somewhere north of 10 miles over about 5 days while I attended the Materialise World Summit in Brussels and a site tour of the Materialise HQ in Leuven, along with trekking through three airports and an afternoon of sight-seeing. I can guarantee that it would have been enough walking to ensure additional water blister formation, as that’s a pretty common occurrence for the weary conference traveller. But in Belgium? No new ones.

To ensure proper quasi-scientific study, I did make sure to wear the same boots I’ve worn on several international trips that have resulted in water blisters. What changed? My insoles.

Last month, I placed my order through Wiivv‘s easy-to-use app for my own pair of fully customized 3D printed insoles. I selected the three-quarter length ones, as these are recommended for use in boots, my preferred insole-including footwear. The app was as user-friendly as it claims; the only tricky part of scanning my own feet using my phone was when my husband came home earlier than I’d expected and had a question or two about what I was doing doubled over in our hallway bent at the waist taking a photo of my foot on a piece of computer paper settled against the wall. Awkward positioning aside, the process took well under 10 minutes to scan both feet and their arches. The app kept me updated about when the scans were accepted and subsequently viewed by a member of the Wiivv team, and then again when my personal insoles shipped out. They arrived a few days later, nicely packaged up and bearing my name on top and bottom of each insole.

The timing worked out that I was able to put them into my boots, ready to come with me to MWS17 for a full-on week of hitting the pavement, which was the best way I knew to put them to the test in some strenuous very real-world conditions. Before this pair, I had been using some store-bought gel insoles in my boots; the difference was immediately noticeable when I slipped my feet into the boots to rest on the new insoles. I did have to adjust them back a bit, because the curve was designed to fit so specifically around the back of my heel that any incorrect positioning had the back of the material jutting up rather than around, but that was the only growing pain type experience of my introduction to walking with Wiivv.

Wiivv might sound familiar; the company has been making great strides (pun intended) in customized footwear lately, and gathering up quite a few believers as it strolls forward. The company has received significant investment through several rounds, including a win at the Inside 3D Printing Startup Competition a few years back securing its place as the first investment for Asimov Ventures, and using that momentum to continue to move ahead. Starting with the insoles, which launched on Kickstarter to such success that they set a record for the most-crowdfunded 3D printed product, the company has now also expanded on to customized 3D printed sandals — which in turn broke the company’s own Kickstarter record. The sandals’ campaign received support from 4,829 backers who collectively pledged $566,401 in the new record-setter. For its part, Wiivv continues to look ahead, as CEO and Co-Founder Shamil Hargovan recently shared his thoughts on the future of footwear.

Walking with Wiivv has been a great experience for me; it can be all too easy to ignore feet when thinking about logistics of travel or simply daily walking, and the attention to detail in these is notable. I have to admit I enjoyed picking out the color scheme and pattern for the insoles, and was positively tickled that they came with my name on them, top and bottom of each piece. The small details stick out, and these insoles are a far cry from my generic drug store versions that could have been for anyone. I have a bad back, and every extra bit of arch support goes a long way in keeping me comfortable and keeping the spring in my step through busy conferences. I have several more events coming up over the next few weeks (notably RAPID + TCT, which we’re anticipating to be quite a good showing for 2017!) and you can bet that I’ll be wearing my Wiivv insoles through all of these.

Have you tried Wiivv insoles? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the Wiivv forum at 3DPB.com.

 

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