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Posted on December 30, 2010
Shock absorption. Heel strike reduction. It’s something sought after by long-distance hikers and runners worldwide. It’s also something to which Jeff Brown has dedicated his life.
It’s an idea that sounds both futuristic and insane. Yet two decades ago Brown decided to implant powerful magnets in boot heels as a way to reduce heel strike. He believes this technology will keep soldiers on their feet for longer periods with less physical strain.
He said his prototype – DAMPS Technology Smart Boots – have been tested during combat by Special Operation Forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Last week he answered some questions for us via e-mail about his dedication to the technology behind magnetic boot heels.
Without getting too technical, can you explain how magnets lessen heel strike?
In a proprietary advanced suspension/propulsion design, the like poles of DAMPS super magnets repel each other. These magnets are 30 times more powerful than your typical refrigerator magnets. That means soldiers are walking on the magnet polarity field created by these super magnets. The result? Heel strike is reduced by over 68 percent. Instead of hitting the ground at two to three times your body weight per square inch, DAMPS reduces that impact by 68 percent. Heel strike injury, plantar fasciitis, is the No. 1 injury seen by podiatrists.
In addition in normal walking gait, the DAMPS suspension systems actually adds real time propulsion, as the system returns to the starting unloaded force position.
When will your technology be picked up by mainstream manufacturer?
We are talking to and reviewing several companies for DAMPS Technology licensing partners.
Will our soldiers ever wear this technology?
Most definitely. Our soldiers, in fact anyone who has ever had an opportunity to wear DAMPS Smart Boots, have told us: “When you build it, we will come.”
What made you think magnets would work?
I didn’t at first. But after 22 years and 20 prototypes, we have the finest shock mitigation technology boots the world has ever seen and felt. I wear my boots every day. The funny thing is your body adjusts to the boots. And you are reminded when you take the boots off how hard the ground really is.
How did you think to use them to begin with?
I was in a motorcycle accident in 1988 and was laid up for nearly a year. In a weekly brain storming session with my brother, we saw a marketing angle for using magnets in footwear. Two decades, 80 investors a five-year legal battle with Adidas, a three-year battle with General Motors and 20 prototypes later, we have a one of a kind technology that allows soldiers, anyone, to walk 10 miles and save the shock of 7 miles. I am working on a movie script re the 20 year story of making DAMPS. Working title: Shoe Grit.
How is it proven to work?
We call it “the DAMPS One Step Difference.” Ask SORSE (Special Operations Research Development Test and Evaluation). They used and evaluated the boots for nine months, and they liked them. They were able to both fast rope them and conduct a HALO jump with them in the last two months. The evaluation said the boots were excellent for field wear, especially while under heavy loads.
Can you really tell the difference?
No doubt! I know with all the marketing out there it can get a little confusing, but DAMPS is the real deal. In fact, I have a standing offer to the footwear industry. If someone can beat DAMPS Technology shock mitigation, I will eat my boots. I not only stand behind my product, I stand on it. The world will follow because the world follows the best.