Patent application title: APPARATUS AND METHODS FOR PROVIDING STABILITY FOR HEELED SHOES
Sheryl White (Del Mar, CA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA43B300FI
Class name: Boots, shoes, and leggings boots and shoes shoe attachment (e.g., ornament, pocket, etc.)
Publication date: 2013-06-06
Patent application number: 20130139411
Apparatus and methods for providing enhanced stability to the wearer of a
heeled shoe. In one embodiment, the apparatus enables individuals to walk
on soft or uneven surfaces while wearing heeled shoes with increased
stability. The stability apparatus is composed of a substantially planar
plastic body having one or more means to permit affixing the apparatus to
the bottom of a heeled shoe. The bottom surface of the apparatus may be
further adapted to provide additional support by comprising a material
which provides traction. The apparatus is in one embodiment minimally
visible from most angles which a third party would view the shoe to which
it is attached. This may be further facilitated by forming the apparatus
out of a transparent material.
1. An apparatus configured to provide enhanced stability to a wearer of a
heeled shoe, the apparatus comprising: a substantially planar body
element; and at least one attachment feature configured to couple to said
body element and to removably attach to a bottom of said heeled shoe at
least at both front and rear portions thereof.
2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said apparatus is configured to provide said enhanced stability via at least (i) an increase in a surface area over that of said bottom of said heeled shoe, and (ii) a substantially even distribution of a weight of said wearer across said apparatus.
3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said apparatus is comprised of a substantially at least partly transparent flexible polymer.
4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said at least one attachment feature comprises at least one adhesive patch disposed on said body element and configured to be removably affixed to said bottom of said shoe.
5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said apparatus further comprises at least one traction-producing surface, said traction-producing surface being disposed on a surface of said body element configured to interface with a surface on which said wearer is walking.
6. A stability enhancement apparatus configured to be disposed on a bottom surface of a shoe, said apparatus comprising: a plastic body portion comprising at least a first surface configured to interface with said shoe, and a second surface configured to interface with a surface on which a wearer of said shoe walks; at least one first attachment feature disposed on said first surface and configured to attach said plastic body portion to a first portion of said shoe; and at least one second attachment feature disposed on said first surface and configured to attach said plastic body portion to a second portion of said shoe.
7. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein at least one of said first and second attachment features comprises an adhesive patch.
8. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein said first portion of said shoe comprises a portion thereof configured to house a wearer's toes, and said second portion of said shoe comprises a heel portion thereof.
9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein said at least one second attachment feature comprises a receptacle extending upward from said plastic body portion and configured to receive at least a portion of said heel portion of said shoe therein.
10. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein said at least one second attachment feature comprises an aperture configured to receive at least a portion of said heel portion of said shoe therein.
11. The apparatus of claim 6, further comprising a raised wall feature configured to extend upward from a periphery of said plastic body portion and interface with at least a portion of a said bottom of said shoe.
12. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein at least a portion of said apparatus is comprised of low-cost materials and is thereby made disposable.
13. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein said at least portion of said apparatus comprised of said low-cost materials comprising a replaceable sheet configured to be removed and replaced after a certain period of wear, said replaceable sheet obviating a need for replacement of an entirety of said apparatus.
14. An apparatus configured to provide enhanced stability to a wearer of a high-heeled shoe comprising: a plastic body member comprising a shoe interfacing surface and a ground interfacing surface; at least one first attachment feature disposed on said shoe interfacing surface and configured to removably couple a first portion of said plastic body member to a toe portion of said high-heeled shoe; and at least one second attachment feature disposed on said shoe interfacing surface and configured to removably couple a second portion of said plastic body member to a heel portion of said high-heeled shoe.
15. The apparatus of claim 14, further comprising at least one traction-producing feature disposed on said ground interfacing surface.
16. The apparatus of claim 14, wherein said first and second attachment features each comprise one or more adhesive regions configured to facilitate said removable coupling to said toe and heel portions of said high-heeled shoe without substantially affecting a surface of said high-heeled shoe upon removal thereof.
17. The apparatus of claim 14, wherein said at least one first attachment feature comprises a flexible retaining lip.
18. The apparatus of claim 14, wherein said plastic body is comprised of a substantially complaint material configured to flex as said wearer walks.
19. The apparatus of claim 14, wherein said apparatus is comprised of a substantially elastic material configured to accommodate to a plurality of sizes of said high-heeled shoes.
20. The apparatus of claim 14, wherein said at least one second attachment feature comprises at least one of: a receptacle extending upward from said plastic body portion and configured to receive at least a portion of said heel portion of said high-heeled shoe therein; and/or an aperture configured to receive at least a portion of heel portion of said high-heeled shoe therein.
21. A method of configuring a heeled shoe for use on a compliant surface, the method comprising: affixing a flexible component to the heeled shoe such that a majority of a bottom contact portion of a sole of the shoe, including a heel contact surface, is covered by the flexible component, the component mitigating a tendency of the heel contact surface to penetrate the compliant surface on which a wearer of the shoe walks.
22. The method of claim 21, wherein the compliant surface comprises natural grass, and the act of mitigating comprises increasing the effective surface area of at least the heel contact portion.
23. The method of claim 22, wherein the affixing comprises removably affixing such that the shoe is in no way rendered unusable when the flexible component is removed.
 This application claims priority to commonly owned U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/563,286 of the same title filed on Nov. 23, 2011, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
 A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material that is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
 1. Technological Field
 The present disclosure relates generally to a shoe apparatus and related methods of manufacturing and use. In one exemplary aspect, the disclosure relates to an apparatus for providing increased stability of heeled or high-heeled shoes.
 2. Description of Related Technology
 It is often considered fashionable to wear heeled shoes. For example, formal attire, business casual, and even some casual looks are made complete by the addition of heeled shoes. Although higher heels (such as high-heeled shoes, platform or stacked heels, stilettos, etc.) are reserved generally for women's looks, it is appreciated that heeled shoes may be worn by both sexes.
 In many situations, it is not feasible to wear heeled shoes. The surface on which the wearer must walk or stand, for example, may be less than suitable for the altered center of mass, and other kinematics associated with wearing heeled shoes. For instance, when the wearer is walking or standing on a soft surface (such as turf, grass, sand, etc.) in heeled shoes, it is common for the heel portion to sink into the surface. This is especially true as the surface area of the bottom (contact) surface of the heel decreases, as is typical in many heeled women's shoes. Additionally, when the wearer of heeled shoes attempts to walk or stand on an uneven surface (such as an unfinished pavement, gravel, cobblestone, etc.), the heel often catches, rocks, or is otherwise unsteady. These events may cause the wearer to lose balance, trip, strain muscles, sprain an ankle, fall, etc. Moreover, walking over grates such as on city sidewalks can result in the heel getting caught within the grate, thereby either causing the wearer to stumble or fall, or breaking the heel off the shoe. However, fashion often dictates a use of heeled shoes in these less than ideal walking/standing situations.
 Various technologies have been developed for assisting a wearer of heeled shoes in walking and/or standing on soft or unsteady terrain. Many of these technologies focus on expanding the surface area of the heeled portion of the shoe, as illustrated by the exemplary prior art device 100 illustrated in FIG. 1 and discussed in e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 5,311,675 to Topel. As shown, the prior art inventions generally provide a cap member 100 readily mounted and removed relative to a heel portion of a heeled shoe, so as to provide for enhanced support to the individual when traversing uneven or soft terrain. By increasing the surface area of the heel portion (such as with the prior art device 100), the entire weight of the wearer is distributed across a larger area. Distribution of the weight causes the entire heel to be more stable, and less pressure to be applied to any one point on the heel. Thus, the likelihood of the heel sinking into soft ground, getting caught in a grating, etc. is decreased. Additionally, the increased surface area of the heel portion of the shoe increases the overall stability of the shoe for traversing uneven ground. For example, the heel is less likely to fall into small cracks or holes. However, the foregoing approach often fails to fully protect the heel from sinking or piercing into a soft surface. That is, the prior art solution merely provides some improvement, but not a completely effective solution.
 Other prior art approaches seek to add additional stability by increasing the resistance of the shoe to sliding or slipping. As illustrated in FIG. 2, one or more ground engaging surfaces 200 made of resilient material are placed at e.g., the ball portion of the shoe. The surface 200 provides a non-slip surface which engages the ground and enhances stability during walking/standing. The foregoing approach may be used to provide added traction in instances where the walking/standing surface is wet, angled, or otherwise unsafe. However, the foregoing approach is not useful in protecting the wearer from the heel portion of the shoe being caught in a crack or hole (of an uneven surface), and/or from piercing or sinking into a soft surface.
 For the reasons stated above, and for other reasons stated below which will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading and understanding the present specification, there is a need in the art for an improved apparatus and methods for providing stability to the wearer of a heeled shoe. Ideally, such improved apparatus and methods would provide constant and enhanced support despite the surface on which the wearer is walking or standing. Additionally, the improved apparatus would be minimally noticeable to third parties viewing the shoe if desired.
 The aforementioned needs are satisfied herein by providing, inter alia, apparatus and methods for enhanced stability of a heeled shoe.
 In a first aspect, an apparatus for providing enhanced stability to a heeled shoe is disclosed. In one embodiment, the apparatus comprises a substantially planar plastic body having at least one feature for attachment to the heeled shoe and providing a substantially even surface for walking. The apparatus may be removably attached to the shoe via at least one adhesive patch or other such mechanism.
 The exemplary embodiment of the apparatus provides enhanced stability by increasing the surface area of the bottom of the shoe and causing weight of the wearer to be evenly distributed across the apparatus. Additionally, the apparatus is minimally visible from most angles to a third party observer.
 In yet another variant, the apparatus may be configured to utilize a traction-producing surface for interfacing with the ground.
 In another embodiment, the apparatus comprises an attachment for high heeled shoes. In one variant the apparatus comprises a plastic body (e.g., substantially oval or other useful shape) having at least a first portion for attachment to the heel of the shoe, and a second portion for attachment to the toe box of the shoe. The portion for attachment to the heel may comprise a minimally visible adhesive patch for example. Alternatively, the attachment to the heel may comprise an aperture within the body of the apparatus for receiving a tip of the heel.
 In yet another variant, the portion for attachment to the heel may comprise a receptacle extending upward from the body of the apparatus for receiving a portion of the heel.
 In still another variant, the heel receiving portion may comprise a wall extending upward from the body of the apparatus to interface with the bottom portions of the high heel. The walled embodiment converts the high heel to a so-called wedged heel.
 In another embodiment, the stability apparatus is constructed from low-cost materials and made disposable (e.g., limited or even single use).
 In yet another embodiment, the bottom (contact) surfaces of the apparatus are fitted with a replaceable contact sheet so that a scuffed or worn sheet can be removed and replaced without replacing the entire apparatus.
 Corresponding methods for manufacturing and using the herein-described apparatus are also given.
 These and other aspects and features shall become apparent when considered in light of the disclosure provided herein.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating an exemplary prior art device for providing stability to heeled shoes.
 FIG. 2 is a bottom elevational view illustrating a second exemplary prior art device for providing stability to heeled shoes.
 FIG. 3 is a bottom perspective view illustrating an exemplary apparatus for providing stability to heeled shoes according to the present disclosure.
 FIGS. 3a-3d illustrate various alternative embodiments of the stability apparatus of FIG. 3.
 FIG. 4 is a bottom exploded view of a heeled shoe with stability apparatus, showing placement of the stability apparatus thereon.
 FIGS. 5 and 5a illustrate respective front quarter and rear quarter views of the placement of an exemplary apparatus on a typical heeled shoe.
 FIG. 6 is a bottom perspective view illustrating another exemplary apparatus for providing stability to heeled shoes according to the present disclosure.
 FIG. 6a is a front quarter perspective view of the exemplary apparatus of FIG. 6 disposed on a heeled shoe.
 FIG. 7 is a bottom perspective view illustrating yet another exemplary apparatus for providing stability to heeled shoes according to the present disclosure.
 FIG. 7a is a front quarter perspective view of the exemplary apparatus of FIG. 7 disposed on a heeled shoe.
 FIG. 8 is a side perspective view illustrating another exemplary apparatus for providing stability to heeled shoes according to the present disclosure.
 FIG. 8a is a side perspective view of the exemplary apparatus of FIG. 8 disposed on a heeled shoe.
 All Figures© Copyright 2011-2012 Sheryl White. All rights reserved.
 Reference is now made to the drawings wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout.
 As used herein, the term "heeled shoe" refers generally to footwear which raises the heel of the wearer's foot higher than the wearer's toes including, inter alia, platform heels, stacked heels, low heels, mid heels, stiletto heels, pumps (court shoe), block heels, tapered heels, blade heels, wedge heels, boots (including cowboy boots), cuban heels, whether worn by men or women.
 As used herein, the term "adhesive" refers generally and without limitation to an adhesive or glue or bonding agent which adheres or bonds items together permanently or non-permanently (i.e., detachably). Adhesives discussed herein may come from either natural or synthetic sources.
 As used herein, the term "plastic" refers generally and without limitation to any material formed of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids. Plastics may include polymers of high molecular mass, and/or monomers comprising either natural or synthetic organic compounds.
 In one salient aspect, apparatus for providing enhanced stability to the wearer of a heeled shoe are disclosed herein. The apparatus discussed herein enables individuals to walk on soft surfaces (such as grass lawns, sand, soil, snow, etc.) or uneven surfaces (such as cobblestone, gravel, pavement, etc.) while wearing heeled shoes (such as high heels). Stability is provided by inter alia, increasing the surface area of the bottom of the heeled shoe and more evenly distributing the weight of the wearer. In an exemplary embodiment, the stability apparatus is composed of a substantially oval plastic body. The apparatus is affixed to the shoe via one or more adhesive portions thereof, or alternatively by receiving the bottom portion of the shoe in a frictional mechanism (e.g., "cup"). The bottom surface of the apparatus (which is in contact with the ground) may be further adapted to provide additional support by at least partially comprising a material which provides traction, such as a grid, abrasive surface, rubber layer, etc.
 The apparatus is, in one advantageous embodiment, minimally visible from most angles which a third party would view the shoe to which it is attached. This may be further facilitated by forming the apparatus out of a transparent material.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS
 Exemplary embodiments of the apparatus and methods of the present disclosure are now described in detail. While these exemplary embodiments are described in the context of the aforementioned high heeled shoe, it is appreciated that the various features of the disclosure may be used with other types of shoes, whether mid-heel, low-heel, boots, men's shoes, etc., the following therefore being merely exemplary in nature.
 It will also be appreciated that while described generally in the context of a wearer walking on soft ground or snow, the various features of the present disclosure may be readily adapted to or utilized in other types of environments (e.g., environments with uneven surfaces for walking/standing) as well.
 Additionally, although discussed herein with respect to a given size/shape, it is appreciated that all of the embodiments discussed herein may be used with any of the sizes and shapes of apparatus (whether discussed herein, or an obvious variant thereof) with equal success.
 Other features and advantages of the present disclosure will immediately be recognized by persons of ordinary skill in the art with reference to the attached drawings and detailed description of exemplary embodiments as given below.
 Referring now to FIG. 3, an exemplary embodiment of an apparatus 300 for providing enhanced stability to a heeled shoe according to the present disclosure is illustrated. Stability is provided by inter alia, increasing the surface area of the bottom of the heeled shoe, and/or more evenly distributing the weight of the wearer. The stability apparatus 300 enables individuals to walk on soft surfaces or uneven surfaces (such as grass lawns) while wearing heeled shoes (such as high heels) without sinking into the surface, tripping, or otherwise being caused to walk abnormally (e.g., on the balls of their feet only).
 In an exemplary embodiment, the stability apparatus 300 is composed of a plastic body which is shaped as desired (e.g., generally oval-shaped). However, as will be discussed in greater detail below (see e.g., FIGS. 3a-3d), alternative embodiments may use alternative shapes. The plastic body of the apparatus 300 may be of a thickness so as to provide stability without substantially impacting the overall height and balance of the shoe. It is appreciated that a minimum thickness of the device is desired; however, any useful thickness may be utilized consistent with the present disclosure.
 Additionally, the stability apparatus 300 is formed of a clear material in one exemplary embodiment. By using a clear material and a minimum thickness, the overall look of the shoe is not significantly altered when the apparatus is placed on the shoe. That is, a casual observer will not immediately notice the presence of the apparatus 300 on the shoe when worn, other than in that the apparatus 300 flattens grass or other soft surface in the area between the toe box and heel of a heeled shoe. This effect can also be mitigated by reducing the width of the apparatus in this region if desired. Alternatively, the apparatus 300 may be of one or more other colors, so as to match or complement the shoe to which it will be attached, for example.
 The apparatus 300 in the illustrated embodiment is affixed to the shoe via one or more adhesive portions thereof 302, 304. As shown, an adhesive surface is disposed on the surface 301 of the apparatus 300 which will come into contact with the bottom of the shoe (not illustrated). A paper, wax, or thin plastic backing (not shown) may cover the adhesive portion when not in use; it is then removed and the adhesive aligned to the bottom of the shoe to affix the apparatus 300 thereto. In the illustrated embodiment, a first adhesive portion 302 is configured to align to the portion of the shoe which would ordinarily be in contact with the ground at the ball portion or toe box of the shoe (i.e., the front portion of the shoe containing the wearer's toes). Additionally, a second adhesive portion 304 is disposed at the portion of the shoe which would ordinarily be in contact with the ground at the heel portion of the shoe. The relative sizes of the two portions of the shoe which come into contact with the ground (the toe box and heel portions) may necessitate two different sized adhesive portions 302, 304. However, it is appreciated that alternatively sized portions and/or alternative placement with respect to the overall apparatus 300 may be necessitated depending on the shoe to which the apparatus 300 is to be attached.
 As noted above, the adhesive portions 302, 304 may be comprised of any of various types of adhesive materials well known to those of ordinary skill in the adhesive arts. Thus, by selection of appropriate adhesive materials, the apparatus 300 may be permanently or non-permanently affixed to the shoe as desired. For example, stronger adhesives such as e.g., cyanoacrylate or other glues may cause the apparatus 300 to be permanently attached to a shoe. Selection of a non-permanent adhesive enables the apparatus 300 to be detachable from the shoe and, in some cases, re-useable. Reusability may further be implemented by enabling a wearer to freshly apply an adhesive at each instance of wear. It is appreciated that the adhesive is selected to ensure that the shoe is not in any way damaged by use of the apparatus 300 in the instance the apparatus 300 is non-permanently attached thereto.
 In an alternative embodiment, other fasteners may be utilized to detachably affix the shoe to the apparatus 300. For example, magnets may be affixed to the shoe and utilized on the body of the apparatus 300. Alternatively, interference, press, or friction fit mechanisms may be utilized on the apparatus 300 to affix the device 300 to the shoe. As yet another alternative, one or more suction cups may be used (e.g., the cups being permanently mounted to the apparatus 300, and removably adhered to the sole of the shoe during use, such as by minimally wetting the cups with water).
 The stability apparatus 300 may be formed to have a desired degree of flexibility. This enables the apparatus to flex as the user walks, and their foot (and to some degree the shoe) articulates. Were the apparatus 300 completely rigid, the user might repeatedly have the heel of the shoe come loose or slip off their heel as the foot naturally flexes during walking. The desired degree of flexibility can be achieved by selecting the type of material used (e.g., the rigidity or hardness of the plastic), its thickness, and/or its shape. In one variant, the apparatus is shaped with wider areas at the heel and ball regions, yet a narrower width between the two (i.e., under the arch, where the foot naturally flexes). The apparatus may even be provided a mechanical joint or hinge so as to articulate the heel and ball (front) portions relative to one another, although esthetically this may be less desirable.
 As yet another option, only one of the front (ball) portion or rear (heel) portion of the apparatus 300 may be attached to the shoe, while the other is left in effect "free floating" so that when the user's foot (and hence the shoe) bends during walking, the apparatus 300 does not itself bend significantly, or bends yet slides so as to relieve bending and longitudinal stress placed thereon.
 Referring now to FIGS. 3a-3d, various additional embodiments of the stabilizing apparatus 300 are given. As illustrated in FIG. 3a, for example, in one embodiment the apparatus may be shaped to more closely duplicate the overall shape of a high heeled shoe. That is, the section of the apparatus 310 disposed between the heel and toe box is tapered to a smaller profile shape than the apparatus of FIG. 3. Similar to the embodiment, discussed above, the illustrated apparatus 310 comprises both toe 312 and heel 314 adhesive portions. The embodiment of FIG. 3a provides the wearer with the same protection against soft or uneven surfaces by increasing the surface area of the bottom of the heeled shoe and more evenly distributing the weight of the wearer, while preferably having a smaller visual appearance.
 The embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3b provides similar advancements as that of FIG. 3a. Additionally, the shape illustrated by the apparatus 320 of FIG. 3b is triangular at the heel adhesive portion 324 in order to accommodate different shaped heel portions, such as shoes having tapered heels. However it is appreciated that any size or shape heel portion may be utilized with the present disclosure. Further, the embodiment of FIG. 3b provides an increased area of adhesive at the ball of the foot 322 and/or decreased overall size of the apparatus near this portion. In other words, the embodiment of FIG. 3b is configured to provide a maximum amount of connection between the apparatus and the shoe at the ball portion 322 thereof.
 The embodiments of FIGS. 3c and 3d generally correspond to men's shoes or shoes which do not have a "high heel", yet have a raised heel portion (for example, boots, heeled flats, etc.). The shapes given in the embodiments of FIGS. 3c and 3d are generally square in shape; however, as with all of the embodiments discussed herein, other shapes may be utilized. Additionally, the adhesive at the heel portion 334, 344 of both embodiments may be adjusted in size or shape to accommodate the larger heel of the shoe. This feature may be particularly useful in accommodating men's shoes.
 Referring again to FIG. 3, in one variant, the surface 303 of the apparatus 300 which is in contact with the ground may be further adapted to provide additional support by at least partially comprising a material which provides traction (not shown). For example, the surface 303 may be textured, ridged, or may otherwise have a plurality of features which extend from the surface 303 and are configured to "grip" the terrain.
 Although not illustrated, in yet another embodiment, any of the aforementioned shapes of FIGS. 3-3d may be made oversized with respect to the body portion thereof in order to create an entire platform on which the shoe sits. When combined with the previously discussed traction or gripping feature (not shown), the platform may serve as a "snow shoe" for any shoe to which the wearer may choose to attach the apparatus 300.
 In another embodiment (not shown), the stability apparatus is constructed from low-cost materials and made disposable (e.g., limited or even single use). For example, in one implementation, the apparatus comprises a low-cost clear polyethylene or other plastic element with single-use adhesive already applied. The user merely exposes the adhesive, applies to the shoe, and then removes and discards the apparatus after use. The grade of plastic selected is such that it has very limited mechanical properties (i.e., is comparatively soft and can only withstand a limited number of flexural cycles before cracking or otherwise degrading) and accordingly can be manufactured much more inexpensively than one designed for repeated use.
 In yet another embodiment, the bottom (contact) surfaces of the apparatus are fitted with a replaceable transparent contact sheet so that a scuffed or worn sheet can be removed and replaced without replacing the entire apparatus. For instance, in one variant, a contact adhesive is applied to the surface of the removable layer such that the user can simply peel off the layer when worn, and replace it with a new one. This layer acts to protect the bottom of the apparatus, which may otherwise become worn due to walking on hard surfaces such as cement or bricks or asphalt. This is especially useful for embodiments using a clear (transparent) polymer, as such scuffs and marks would tend to cloud the appearance and degrade the transparency if not otherwise protected. The adhesive used is also optionally selected to be as transparent as possible, thereby maintaining as much overall transparency of the stability apparatus as a whole as possible.
 FIG. 4 illustrates exemplary placement of a stability apparatus 300 on a heeled shoe 400. As shown, the toe adhesive portion 302 of the apparatus is aligned to the toe box portion of the shoe 402. Additionally, the heel adhesive portion 304 is aligned to the tip of the heel of the shoe 404.
 As noted above, in one embodiment, a paper or other backing may be first removed from the adhesive surfaces 302, 304 in order to expose the adhesive to the shoe 400. The apparatus 300 is then affixed to the shoe 400 via the adhesive. However, other means for attaching the apparatus 300 to the shoe 400 may be used with equal success (as discussed elsewhere herein).
 When the apparatus 300 is aligned as discussed, the surface 301 of the apparatus 300 which contains the adhesive is rotated to face the shoe 400 and the under surface 303 when properly disposed on the shoe 400 will face away from the shoe 400, towards the surface on which the wearer will walk or stand.
 Referring now to FIGS. 5 and 5a, the placement of an exemplary apparatus 300 on a heeled shoe 500 is illustrated. FIG. 5 illustrates the front side view of the apparatus 300 disposed on the shoe 500. In addition, FIG. 5a illustrates a rear side view of the apparatus 300 attached to the shoe 500. As shown, the overall appearance of the shoe 500 is not affected by the placement of the apparatus 300 thereon. That is, the apparatus 300 is minimally visible from most angles which a third party would view the shoe 500.
Additional Alternative Embodiments
 FIG. 6 illustrates another exemplary apparatus 600 for providing stability to heeled shoes. As shown, the stability apparatus 600 is generally similar in shape and size to the previously discussed apparatus. It is further appreciated that alternative shapes and/or sizes may be utilized with equal success (including those of FIGS. 3a-3d).
 The stability apparatus 600 in the illustrated embodiment generally comprises a first surface 601 having a first adhesive portion 602 disposed thereon. As discussed elsewhere herein, the adhesive portion 602 may be comprised of literally any adhesive type, including permanent and non-permanent adhesives or other means for affixing the apparatus 600 to the shoe.
 Additionally, the first surface 601 comprises an aperture 604 for receiving the tip of the heel of a shoe. The interior surface of the aperture 604 may also include an adhesive or otherwise be configured to retain the heel portion therein, such as via friction fit, magnets, etc. In addition, the circumference, size, and shape of the aperture 604 may vary to accommodate a broad range of heel types.
 FIG. 6a illustrates the exemplary apparatus 600 of FIG. 6 disposed on a heeled shoe 650. As shown, the adhesive portion 602 adheres to the underside of the toe box portion of the shoe 650. The tip of the heel of the shoe fits within the aperture 604 of the apparatus 600.
 Similar to the embodiments discussed above, the embodiment of FIGS. 6 and 6a advantageously provides stability to the wearer of the shoe 650 in that the weight of the wearer is distributed across the surface area of the apparatus 600. The apparatus may further provide added traction across its bottom surface 603.
 Referring now to FIG. 7, another exemplary apparatus 700 for providing stability to heeled shoes is illustrated. As shown, the embodiment of FIG. 7 provides a receptacle 704 for receiving the tip of the heel of the shoe. The interior portions of the receptacle 704 may further comprise a means for securing the heel, such as adhesives, friction fit, etc.
 The apparatus 700 is otherwise generally similar to the embodiments previously described herein. That is, the exemplary apparatus 700 of FIG. 7 further comprises a surface 701 having an adhesive portion 702 in position to align to the toe box portion of a shoe. FIG. 7a is a side view of the exemplary apparatus 700 of FIG. 7 disposed on a heeled shoe 750. As shown, the apparatus 700 is slightly more visible to the third party observer in that a portion of the receptacle 704 extends up a length of the heel. However, the side walls of the receptacle 704 may provide even further stability to the wearer and are therefore may be viewed as continuing to provide an advantage to the user.
 It is further appreciated that the foregoing embodiments may be further configured to accommodate any heel height. In one example, the receptacle 704 for receiving the heel portion may be of a height suitable to partially or fully contain the heel portion of the shoe. In addition, the receptacle 704 may be of varying circumference, size, and shape. Still further, the receptacle 704 may be configured to have an adjustable height, such as via telescoping features. Alternatively, the receptacle 704 may be adjusted by the user, such as by providing a receptacle 704 of a first high, which the user can cut down to size to a particular shoe.
 FIG. 8 illustrates yet another exemplary apparatus 800 for providing stability to heeled shoes. The embodiment of FIG. 8 provides enhanced stability by converting a high-heeled shoe to a wedge heel. The apparatus 800 is generally similar to the other embodiments discussed herein. However, the stability apparatus 800 of FIG. 8 includes a wall portion 805. The wall 805 is conic or circular and extends from the first surface of the apparatus 801 toward the shoe in a tapered fashion. The profile of the wall 805 is configured to create the illusion of a wedged heel when disposed on the shoe 850 as illustrated in FIG. 8a. The wall portion 805 may be adjustable in height to accommodate wedges of various sizes and heights as well.
 According to this embodiment, the heel of the shoe 850 is received within the apparatus 800 and secured thereto via an adhesive portion at the toe box 802 and at the heel 804. Additional adhesives may be utilized along the edges of the wall 805 to further secure the apparatus 800 to an underside of the portion of the heeled shoe which corresponds to the arch of the foot. Although the adhesive shapes illustrated are generally circular in nature, it is appreciated that the various shapes and sizes discussed herein may be utilized. Additionally, the adhesive portion at the heel 804 may be replaced with an aperture (as discussed in FIGS. 6 and 6a) or a receptacle (as discussed in FIGS. 7 and 7a).
 Although the overall appearance of the shoe is, in this embodiment, altered significantly, the apparatus 800 continues to provide support to the wearer especially in instances of walking or standing on soft or uneven ground. Additionally, it is appreciated that the apparatus 800 of this embodiment (or any of the herein-described embodiments) may be opaque and advantageously made available in a variety of colors to "match" or coordinate with the color of the shoe 850, or the surroundings on which it will be used (e.g., green for walking on grass).
 In another embodiment, the end of the apparatus adapted to attach the toe portion of the shoe further comprises a retaining mechanism. In one embodiment, the retaining mechanism may include a flexible feature designed to extend above and around the front of the shoe thereby enveloping and grasping the toe portion, i.e., a "lip". The flexibility of the feature enables it to conform to shoes with toe portions of various widths and shapes (e.g., pointed toe, square toe, rounded toe, etc.)
 In yet another embodiment, the foregoing embodiments of the apparatus may be extended to accommodate different sizes of shoes. For example, the apparatus may be comprised of a material which is elastic or compliant in nature such that it may be attached at a first end of the shoe (such as at the toe portion) via e.g., an adhesive or other retaining mechanism, and stretched to reach and attach to the other end of the shoe (such as the heel portion). The elastic or stretchable apparatus is held in place via the aperture for receiving the heel portion (see e.g., FIG. 6), the receptacle for receiving the heel portion (see e.g., FIG. 7), and/or a retaining mechanism at the toe portion.
 The herein-described apparatus may be used by the wearer of a heeled shoe for enhanced stability when wearing heeled shoes on soft or uneven surfaces. Although the following methodology is described with respect to the stability apparatus of FIG. 3 herein, it will be appreciated that the method is not so limited, and can be readily adapted to other embodiments of the apparatus by those of ordinary skill given the present disclosure.
 As a first step, the user prepares or exposes the adhesive portions of the apparatus. For instance, the user may peel off a protective layer of plastic or waxed paper to reveal the adhesive portions. Alternatively, the user may apply adhesive to the shoe and/or the apparatus, such as via a tube or other dispenser.
 Subsequently, the user aligns the apparatus (and adhesive portion) to the underside of the shoe in order to affix the apparatus thereto. The user then mates the apparatus and the shoe so as to form a unitary structure.
 Once the apparatus is securely affixed to the shoe, the user may walk, stand, and otherwise use the shoe in a normal fashion on all surfaces including e.g., soft surfaces (such as grass, sand, snow, etc.) and/or uneven surfaces (such as gravel, cobblestone, etc.).
 At a later time, the user may remove the apparatus from the shoe such as by simply peeling the apparatus with enough force to overcome the strength of the adhesive. The apparatus may be disposed of, or alternatively reused with, the same or different shoes.
 It will be recognized that while certain aspects of the disclosure are described in terms of a specific sequence of steps of a method, these descriptions are only illustrative of the broader methods, and may be modified as required by the particular application. Certain steps may be rendered unnecessary or optional under certain circumstances. Additionally, certain steps or functionality may be added to the disclosed embodiments, or the order of performance of two or more steps permuted. All such variations are considered to be encompassed within the disclosure and claims herein.
 While the above detailed description has shown, described, and pointed out novel features of the disclosure as applied to various embodiments, it will be understood that various omissions, substitutions, and changes in the form and details of the device or process illustrated may be made by those skilled in the art. The foregoing description is of the best mode presently contemplated. This description is in no way meant to be limiting, but rather should be taken as illustrative of the general principles of the disclosure.
Patent applications in class Shoe attachment (e.g., ornament, pocket, etc.)
Patent applications in all subclasses Shoe attachment (e.g., ornament, pocket, etc.)