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ShiftWear: Developing Software for the World's First App-Driven Smartsneaker

A team of futurists, entrepreneurs and engineers created ShiftWear to challenge the fashion and tech industries with “the most advanced and immersive sneakers ever". The concept revolved around bringing to market sneakers that could dynamically display images and animations created by remote designers.

ShiftWear, an up-and-coming tech startup, is about to launch a unique and one-of-a-kind sneaker that can be customized in real-time with the use of a slick mobile app. Available in high, medium and low tops and boasting a waterproof and walk-to-charge design, these groundbreaking sneakers will give image designers from all over the world the ability to create and design animations for their sneakers.

ShiftWear is a crowdfunded company from New York. By the end of 2015, ShiftWear had raised $927,077 in a highly successful crowdfunded Indiegogo campaign, which was 3088% of the initial goal.

The central part of ShiftWear is a platform that enables people to express themselves with fashion. The ShiftWear app will control the designs displayed on the shoe, and the app’s users will be able to change shoe displays at any time on their own or by purchasing somebody else's design in the marketplace.

At first, ShiftWear wanted to build their own local in-house development team in New York. However, this proved to be impossible taking into consideration the looming deadline. The Lead Hardware Engineer at ShiftWear had worked with Netguru before on another project and knew they were the right choice for the job.


The main challenges ShiftWear and Netguru had to face when building their innovative product included:

  1. Implementing a mobile app for managing real-time sneaker design customization.
  2. Building a marketplace for on-sneaker image designers.
  3. Recruiting the right development team for the project.
  4. Overcoming the limited availability of developer talent in NYC.

Both ShiftWear and Netguru engineers and designers had to work on software enabling users to control the image design on shoes that had not even been manufactured yet – not only by ShiftWear but by any other big fashion company. This required close communication and a perfect understanding of the idea behind the app.

Additionally, the ShiftWear platform also included a content marketplace that would get users and designers involved. While putting content on apparel seemed intuitive enough, the teams needed to provide means and inspiration to users so that they could do it in a way that would create a great and beautiful product.


The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) was released in just six weeks from the inception. The main aspects of the successful launch included:

  1. Scoping the project prior to the launch.
  2. Keeping the project focused and constrained to avoid scope creep.
  3. Engaging and empowering experienced designers and developers.
  4. Maintaining real-time communications.

Working with Netguru exceeded ShiftWear's expectations.

Netguru fits in perfectly with the way we work. We like to have tight communication within the team to brainstorm new ideas together. With the Netguru team, we have a weekly call to discuss these things. Everybody knows their part in the project and is fully committed to their role. We wanted to build our own team, but Netguru's remote team has worked much better than we first expected. Nick Johnson, Lead Hardware Engineer at ShiftWear

A big part of what made the project work was the scoping session Netguru run before the start, which involved everyone participating in the project. The teams discussed every possible solution. "The session was comprehensive, and the estimation of time and cost was really reasonable", noticed Nick Johnson.

Key Benefits

Anyone using the ShiftWear app can display HD-quality images on the sneakers. The key benefits of partnering with Netguru included:

  1. Bringing to market a unique and groundbreaking product in six weeks.
  2. Creating a marketplace for image and animation designers.
  3. Providing access to a scalable remote team.

Beyond low-power consuming static designs and images, ShiftWear sneakers can also display animations. Take a look at the case study of the project

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