Ah, the movies. A wonderful place that gives you ideas of technology you never knew you needed until they paraded the concept across the screen. Iron man’s computing system and personal assistant, J.A.R.V.I.S., the phone implant in Total Recall or basically any tech we saw in The Jetsons. Nike went further than just wishing, and made a movie concept a reality. The Nike HyperAdapt 1.0 are auto-lacing sneakers adapted from the 1985 movie Back II The Future. Sure it took a decade of development, but they’re here and available to the masses. Sort of. (Put a pin on this).
What exactly is ‘adaptive lacing’?
According to Nike, the future of footwear are shoes that act as an extension of your body. Consequently, once you slip on the HyperAdapt 1.0, it electronically contours to your foot. Designed by Tiffany Beers, the lead engineer on the project, and Tinker Hatfield – Vice President of Creative Concepts, NIKE, Inc. – they set out with the idea of shoes that sense what the body needs in real-time. As Nike describes the HyperAdapt, “It challenges traditional understanding of fit, proposing an ultimate solution to individual idiosyncrasies in lacing and tension preference.” For starters, it comes with a sensor under the midfoot that triggers the automatic tightening when your foot slides into the shoes. They explain it beautifully in the video below:
It also has buttons on the side of the sneakers that allow the wearer to adjust the fit. This was inspired to address the enduring athlete-equipment predicament: the ability to make swift micro-adjustments. Athletes put their shoes through high stress situations, often making moves in split seconds. A loose or tight shoe doesn’t offer the support they’d need. Even with conventional sneakers for the average Joe, the continuous stress cycle of slippage and tightening of laces makes them loose and unreliable. That’s why you tend to stop and tie your laces more often the older the sneakers are. But with this precise, personalized lock-down, it would be a thing of the past.
Additionally, it takes into consideration that environments change during the day and your feet will demand different comfort levels at different times. a quick click of the button can loosen or tighten for enhanced comfort. You can see just how much control the buttons give the user in the video below.
Yes, these shoes do need to be charged. Add that to the queue of things that you have to remember to power up. However, Tiffany Beers insists it should last you two weeks and would only require three hours of charging once it’s on low. The shoes come in Black/White-Blue Lagoon and Black/White-Red Lagoon and are only available at select Nike outlets.
About that pin
Nike’s significance lies in its aptitude to innovate. Thus, when it invests in technology, it doesn’t just focus on the athletes, but also with the vision of making their products available to the masses. Nevertheless, it’s got a hefty price tag of $720; which is the equivalent of walking around with the iPhone X on your feet. Granted, this is only the first version of the shoe.
Nike’s ultimate idea is to make it more responsive to the elements, without the user having to click buttons. As Hatfield expresses, “Wouldn’t it be great if a shoe, in the future, could sense when you needed to have it tighter or looser? Could it take you even tighter than you’d normally go if it senses you really need extra snugness in a quick manoeuvre? That’s where we’re headed. In the future, product will come alive.” Perhaps they’ll also make the sneaker lighter; it is carrying around a mechanical engine and battery after all. It wouldn’t hurt to make them silent too.
“Wouldn’t it be great if a shoe, in the future, could sense when you needed to have it tighter or looser? Could it take you even tighter than you’d normally go if it senses you really need extra snugness in a quick manoeuvre?” Tinker Hatfield
That being said, it’s an impressive offering when it comes to cool-factor and ease-of use. We now live in a society where only nine percent of children under six years can tie their shoelaces (19 percent can operate an iPhone FYI), and some continue to have trouble at the age of 10. So, this is a timely concept that could easily assimilate into normal life (if that price came down).With our tech skills developing at a faster rate than our more traditional life skills, perhaps designers do need to focus more on this perspective when designing.