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The Spacer Tabi

spacer_tabi.jpgDavid Brin keeps a running tab of the "predictions" he got right in his 1991 novel Earth. He didn't write the book as a piece of forecasting, but has managed to get a variety of things right about how the early 21st century would look.

It may be time for me to start my own list.

In 2003's Transhuman Space: Toxic Memes, I wrote about the "Spacer Tabi:"

Ever since humans moved into space full-time, the quest for comfortable, useful, and attractive clothing for zero gee has been unending. A variety of outfit designs have come and gone over the decades, but one item has stuck around: the tabi. Based on the Japanese split-toe slipper, the so-called "spacer tabi" allows for both comfort when walking in positive-gee environments and the ability to use the crude gripping ability of one's toes in zero gee.
[...] Spacer tabis come in a wider variety of color and fabric on Earth than they do in space, and have become popular in most urban settings. Most adults in Fourth and Fifth Wave countries have at least one pair of spacer tabis in the closet.

Today's boingboing brings us this bit of news:

Space-sneakers like a Japanese toe-sock

These "space-sneakers," manufactured by Japan's Asics, were designed in response to a Russian cosmonaut's complaint that the space-shoes he'd worn had hurt his feet. These shoes are more like Japanese tabi, a sock with a split toe, and they weigh a mere 130g. The slightly inclined toe is meant to keep the calf-muscle taut in low gravity. The company hopes that Japan's astronaut Takao Doi will beta-test them on his Space Shuttle/ISS mission in 2007.

I don't know about you, but I'm totally ready to buy a pair.

It's actually pretty unusual for futurists to get their scenaric elements right. That's not to say that the projections/forecasts are useless. Even "wrong" pieces of foresight are usually wrong in illustrative, useful ways, and get us to keep our eyes open for changes to culture (or technology or politics) that we may otherwise have ignored. Futurist work isn't really about telling people what will happen, but about getting people to anticipate change from a new perspective.


Yeah, these things look comfy and not too ninja-like. Probably good for tree climbing, too... depending on the soles.

I love those shoes! I need to get them. Where can I get them? Does anyone have or can get a pair for me?


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