Tech Talk from the Innovation Team

Ever wonder how Orthaheel Technology was developed? Or, how it was so discreetly developed into our new ballet flats? We interviewed our Medical Director, Terry Mitchell, and our Technical Designer, Tony Hendrix, with some questions about just that. Q: We’re here in the Innovation Lab at Vionic Headquarters, what sort of innovating do you do in this hi-tech environment? A: Terry: (Points to the tabletop machinery on the lab counter.) Currently, the laser scanner is used for developing new contours and checking pre-production footbeds to be sure the contour is 100% accurate. In other words, it’s used for quality control, making sure the contour fits within the new shoe design as it’s supposed to and still provides the support you expect.

In the Vionic innovation lab, the laser scanner checks footbeds to ensure the countour is accurateTony and Terry at the 3-D Scanner.

Tony: It’s vital for reverse engineering – working backwards from a finished product to see how we can improve it, or to see how we can add a favorite contour to a new footbed. Terry: The lab is also an area for developing materials and checking their quality. They modify, develop or cut contours before it goes back to the factory. It can get dusty in here with all the craftsmanship!   Q: What is the benefit of using an insert for the Fall/Winter collection, as opposed to using a molded footbed? A: Terry: It gives us flexibility to test the orthotic to make sure it’s giving ultimate comfort, instead of creating a whole new shoe design. In the ballet flats – we adapted the Relief contour. We made it smaller, and because flats are notoriously a deconstructed style with minimal material, was a challenge to get the support of our standard orthotic into the silhouette. We went through extensive wear testing to make sure it worked – and that’s a great example of how we can use an insert to adapt a great fit and support to new styles. And the better we can use similar contours throughout, the more easily our fans can trust the fit and feel in our products.   Q: What have been some of the biggest challenges in developing new products? A: Terry: It’s an on-going challenge to maintain the integrity of the biomechanics in varying shoe styles, in particularly, the high heel. From that perspective, we have to be mindful of the changes of the biomechanics of the foot as it’s placed in different positions.”

Vionic Shoe development maintains the integrity of biomechanics in varying shoe stylesLasts for product development.

Q: Why does it seem like there’s a little bit of a heel in our Vionic ballet flats? A: Terry: When you have a hard, flat surface, your foot is able to over-pronate more. When you raise the heel just a bit, you reduce the ability of the foot to over-pronate. That’s the primary driver for having a heel to toe drop in all of our shoes. And because the ballet flats are classically very unstructured, a firm heel counter provides greater stability and assists in enhancing the function of the orthotic.   Q: If people aren’t currently suffering from heel pain, is there any benefit to them proactively wearing this technology as a preventative measure? A: Terry: Pain is a great motivator for our customers, because our product can provide immediate and affordable relief. But, it’s good to be aware of the environment we walk in, which is unnatural. The pain you feel today is an accumulation of the millions of steps you’ve taken before, on unnatural surfaces.

Vionic uses a skelatal model of a human foot to develop Orthaheel TechnologyA skeletal model of the human foot.

Q: What makes Vionic with Orthaheel Technology different than other comfort shoes? A: Terry: Orthaheel Technology is based on universally accepted biomechanical principles. We support the foot as nature intended. Our orthotics put under your foot the ground your foot wants to see – contoured and supportive – not hard and flat. Basically, Orthaheel Technology gives you back your footprint. Tony: We put a lot of resources into innovation so we can constantly improve our product. We’re really close to our customers and their comfort is always at the top of our minds.   Q: Can you give any hints about new products on the horizon? A: Tony: I can’t go into full detail, but yes, we are developing some new innovative products. Because fans love our walking shoes so much, we’re working on a new walking shoe program.   We can’t wait! If you have questions about Orthaheel Technology, ask us on Facebook! 

7 Responses to “ Tech Talk from the Innovation Team ”

  1. kenneth t hudok

    I need a pair of mens size 12 How do i order?

  2. I wear custom orthotics. Would I be able to use them in your shoes?

  3. I would like to know what the foot beds or orthotics are made out of!

  4. I love your walking sneakers. I purchased them in wide width. I really need extra wide widths. Will you be making such sizes especially in sandals and regular flat shoes? I can get away with wide widths in sneakers not sandals or flats.

  5. ginger thoresen

    Love your slippers and inserts, but have had difficulty in correct sizing of your sandals. My regular shoe size is 6, but in the sandals I have tried, size 6 is too long, I have also tried a size 5, but that proved to be too small. I need a sandal with straps, the thong doesn’t work for me. Any suggestions are welcome Will you be having half sizes in your sandals?
    thank you,
    Ginger Thoresen

  6. I agree with another comment about extra wide but the upper/top part of shoes have to be done for wide & extra wide so the shoe will wear correctly without being tight and pulling over. I would love to see the thong sandles uppers correspond to the sole of the shoe. You need multiple people with wide feet to check these, not just a standard dummy foot. These shoes are more costly than regular shoes/sandles and all parts need to be designed to sole.

  7. I have called in three time with my problem no return call. I like my rhythm walkers but it hurting so bad in my metatarsal. Do you have a suggestion as what to do or should I mail them back? Jean Owens

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