The Tokyo Marathon wound its usual way through the streets of Japan's high-rise-framed capital last weekend with thousands of runners proudly branded with the mark of sponsor Asics . One thing men's race winner Daniel Njenga probably didn't know, however, is that Asics recently kicked off a high-tech 3D shoe-fitting system in its Japanese shops.
The 3D foot scanner is in place in the shoe specialist's shops across Japan, as well as in a few affiliate stores selling Asics trainers. With a view to matching runners' feet with the most suitable shoes, the system uses four laser beams and eight digital cameras to map each foot precisely.
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The equipment takes 20 seconds per foot and measures seven key points, including length, breadth, instep height, heel inclination and ball girth - all crucial factors in the finely balanced biomechanics of running.
The result is a readout that allows specialist staff to select running shoes that offer the best combination of support and efficiency, which is essential to avoid injury. If it all seems like a quantum leap from those childhood sliding-scale feet measurers in shops, that's because it is.