Is there a difference in pressure between when a person brings their foot down and when they start to actually step?

It's worded horribly but the context would be a pair of shoes that, with hand waving, can create a normal force that can support the user, allowing them to walk in air. But if I want the shoes to work inherently they have to know when a person wants the force and when they don't or else they just end up climbing forever. The story involves these such shoes being available for sale, but I don't know if the characters would need to hold buttons, use neural control etc. to trigger the "platform" or if the shoes could do all the work.

Is there a significant pressure difference that a person exerts with their foot when they are bringing their foot down (before hitting ground) vs when they hit ground and start to actually put their weight on the foot?

  • $\begingroup$ Do you mean the kick off of the step? $\endgroup$ May 17, 2017 at 15:16
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    $\begingroup$ Suddenly I want to apply for a government research grant, get a couple high-speed cameras, install a bunch of pressure pads in various places in several types of shoes, connect them to a data logging computer, hire some assistance and some research subjects, and so on. $\endgroup$
    – cobaltduck
    May 17, 2017 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not clear what are you actually asking here and how are you building new fictional world with this information. Are you sure you didn't meant o ask this on Science Fiction & Fantasy or on Movies & TV stack? $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    May 17, 2017 at 15:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Mołot It would be off topic on SFF. Not sure about Movies & TV. $\endgroup$ May 17, 2017 at 15:30
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    $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure the answer is wiggles fingers mysteriously magic. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    May 17, 2017 at 15:31

2 Answers 2


Your shoes engage their anti-gravitation when they are substantially level, as in the natural motion of a human step. This would make it easy and intuitive to control.

You could have them engage at a particular altitude, but the user would have to indicate whether they want to climb, travel level, or descend, perhaps by curling toes up or down.

I'm an engineer and I have studied human gaits for a real-world hyper-shoe design.


Let it be a not-quite natural motion.

I would hate to waste magic shoes' power climbing real stairs. And that's the least obnoxious false positive. False positives could be interesting, but would not be viable in real product.

All you really need is a signal to turn them on at the right place, and use taking the weight off as a turn off signal. More control might be better in some cases but simple is probably the core of cool here. Pressing a toe button or doing some subtle ankle motion or weight shifting could be pretty clear signals if your users can reliably be expected to use them correctly.


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