Hope_office_with_lavetta_willis_005I was honored to receive a new friend at Operation HOPE’s world headquarters last week, the brilliant Ms. Lavetta Willis, a CEO entrepreneur, and a philanthropist of the heart.

As innovator of DADA Footwear she has already achieved remarkable success, with sales in the tens of millions, but now she has taken her game, so to speak, to the next level; creating Code M, an innovative new technology that brings together the best of athletic footwear and digital music technology. Check it out.

On February 11, 2006, in Las Vegas, Nevada, LL International of Los Angeles, California, makers of Dada footwear, launched a new wireless footwear system called ‘Code M’ at the World Shoe and Accessories show.  LL International’s President and CEO Lavetta Willis called the Code M System “a revolutionary step forward in the way people will use and think about their footwear in the future.” The Code M System is a proprietary, patent-pending wireless technology application for footwear that delivers both audio and data.

“The electronics industry is huge and the disposable income of the 12-25 year old is being spent on cell phones, digital music devices and other electronics not manufactured by our industry.” Willis stated.  “How do we compete with the excitement that electronic companies bring to the market today?  The Code M System from Dada brings excitement to the athletic footwear industry!”

The initial application under the Code M System product umbrella is a shoe that delivers music to a wireless headset in a simple, easy to use manner. The delivery system consists of two key components seamlessly built into Dada shoes, offering easy access to music with no wires and no digital music device to carry.

In this first application, the Code M system is integrated into the shoe’s heel and tongue. Its memory gives the device the ability to hold up to 100 songs with a six-hour battery life. A USB port on the lateral side of the shoe allows downloading of music and re-charging of the battery. Another important element in the system is the wireless headset, which picks up music from the shoes as far away as 30 feet. Consumers will thus be able to hear musical choices while wearing the shoes, as well as after removing them so long as they stay within a 30-foot radius of the shoes.

According to Willis, the development of the Code M System came from personal frustration which became inspiration. “Like many great ideas, this one grew out of my frustration with existing products on the market. I love to work out to music but also want to be able to track my heart rate, pace, miles run, etc. When hiking, I’d like to be able to find my way, know the altitude and time. When I’m most busy, I frequently need instant access to my phone even when working out. Wouldn’t it be great to have one device to do it all? Simple concept, but not such a simple feat. Currently, no one item on the market can do it all.   That is until now.  With Code M, all of these devices can be consolidated. As a music delivery system in its present form, the user will have a wireless headset, and an electronic device integrated into shoes.   Hands free working out, hands free living with access to music and, later, to all types of data. “

“For those who want to share music at the beach, on the court, in the park, on the front porch, we’ll have court, skate and basketball shoes which house speakers in both shoes that operate wirelessly with one another.  Code M users will be able to play music out loud.  No need for a docking station or an outlet when wearing Code M’s. Users will have the option to share or not to share their music,” Willis added.

Next application? Choose your own according to Willis. While she won’t be content until large numbers of consumers benefit from the musical capabilities of the Code M system, Willis has already begun to explore future applications. “After we successfully introduce our music platform, the possibilities are almost unlimited. Our ‘get-fit’ program will provide access to workout-related data, possibly delivered by a personal trainer’s voice. Our ‘get-smart’ program will allow users to forward phone calls from a cell phone to the Code M headset. In the future, GPS devices, navigational systems, and the incorporation of an LED display will give us the ability to stream video and enter the ‘game’ market. “

Dada will sell Code M products primarily through the company’s normal retail outlets, but Willis also intends to market shoes through electronics retailers and catalogs where consumers are comfortable buying technology-based products. Suggested retail for Dada’s basketball line employing the Code M system will be $199.99.

Willis  said, “Today is a new beginning in footwear. The Code M System gives footwear a new purpose, a new standard, a new operating system.” Willis also stated in her closing remarks, “its tough to imagine today’s world without access to a cell phone, user friendly applications like Microsoft Windows, the internet, Google or wireless access to email with your blackberry or palm pilot. Who would ever want to go back to the days when you had to find the nearest phone booth? Today, with the launch of Code M, I would ask who would ever want to go back to the days before the CODE M System?” Simply put…no one.”

In short, Ms. Lavetta Willis is one amazing sista. I am deeply proud of her. Deeply.

Onward with HOPE

John Hope Bryant

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