Illuminated Sneakers

(You Light Up My Sneakers)


Lighted Sneaker Designing

The initial lighted sneaker designs were the "LA Lights" series from LA Gear. However, they were only sized for children. No matter what design was used, the motion sensor provided a great deal of frustration to the designers of these types of sneakers:

  1. Some early designs used mercury tilt switches. They were reliable, but the mercury resulted in a sneaker that was considered hazardous waste by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Spilling a small amount of mercury can literally result in a CERCLA ("Superfund") cleanup site.
  2. After discovering the disadvantages of the mercury tilt switch, the designers substituted a plastic tab depressed by the weight of the wearer. They were environmentally safe, but not reliable. Plastic fatigue would set in. Instead of merely flashing while in a run, the light would come on and stay on until the batteries discharged.

Fayva "Brake Lights"

Fayva Olympian Brake LightsThe Fayva shoe store chain (went out of business in 1996) released their own Brake Lights series, which included motion-activated lighting modules in adult-sized sneakers.

Fayva Olympian Brake Lights - closeup of illuminated lampThis picture is a close-up of the Fayva "Olympian Brake Lights", featuring the bright red Brake Lights in the process of coming to a complete stop.


LA Gear "light GEAR"

Around 1993, LA Gear also released a light GEAR series with removable and interchangeable LED (light-emitting diode) cartridges. Also, unlike most designs, the light GEAR batteries are replaceable. The user can turn off the LED by removing the cartridge, turning it over, and reinserting it.

LA Gear light GEAR CrossRunner - side viewThis is a side view of the light GEAR CrossRunner.

LA Gear light GEAR CrossRunner - back viewThis is a back view showing the light GEAR name and the positioning of the LED cartridges.

Each shoe has a red LED cartridge as standard equipment; orange and green light GEAR LED cartridges were available separately at extra cost. One of my many readers, Patrick, mentioned that one could change out the LED with a bit of fiddling. He made some blue light GEAR cartridges. The pictures below show the LA Gear light GEAR cartridges, which measure slightly under 2 inches from front to back:

LA Gear light GEAR cartridge - 'on' positionWhen inserted with this side up, the light GEAR cartridge flashes when the wearer's weight depresses the center plastic tab on the left side. The battery is a type 2016 3-volt lithium manganese dioxide "coin cell."

LA Gear light GEAR cartridge - 'off' positionWhen inserted with this side up, the light GEAR cartridge will not flash when wearing the shoe.


Lighted Sneakers... coming back for adults?

Except for kids (who still seem fascinated by them), none of the lighted sneakers remained on the market for a long period of time.

In September 2004, I suggested one of my posters write to LA Gear:


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Last Updated: 18 April 2012 11:32


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