On customer service…

My current job takes me to factories where ESD (electrostatic discharge) control is critical. One important control point is the human body. We all shuffled on carpet as a kid, then tried poking unsuspecting people to shock them. Well, I did, but I was strange.

Anyway, imagine that same shock going through your iPhone 4S Qualcomm MDM6610 baseband chip during assembly if a factory worker shuffles around a bit…Poof, you now have an iPod Touch. Or if that charge goes through an airplane’s avionics boards while a mechanic is repairing it…Or through the FPGA in a hospital EKG machine. Preventing a static charge from building in the body is important. To that end, I have to wear special conductive heel straps that connect my body to the floor electrically. These are annoying…

Enter Keen. They are a Portland hometown favorite, and they even started making some boots in the US, after using an overseas sourcing strategy for their entire existence. They sell shoes they claim are ESD-safe. I needed to know that the shoes actually passed the correct ESD test, so I tried emailing, with no expectation of a response. An email to customer service was answered by the developer of the shoe, which kind of rocks. No boilerplate, but a real answer. From the guy/gal who actually designed the thing.

Ordered. Will share my own test results soon.

UPDATE:

Shoes arrived, and passed a quickie multi-meter test. Most importantly, they are comfortable. I brought them to China on my last trip, but wasn’t in a factory that needed to enforce ESD protocols. Next time though…

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