Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Future of Shoes...Today

We've all experienced the same problem before, you're getting ready to go somewhere and you're putting your tennis shoes on, you tie the laces, but they just don't feel right. They're either too tight, too loose, or they feel funny. So you untie them and try to tie them again in hopes of making it feel just right. You spend a couple extra minutes just trying to fix your shoelaces so they don't bother you. It can be a hassle sometimes. Now I don't know about you, but I deal with this problem at least once a day. It gets annoying.

But what if you didn't have to worry about that problem? What if, you didn't have to worry about finding that perfect tension preference or that know that is just right when it comes to tying your shoes: what if the shoes did it for you. That fantasy becomes a reality in the brand new Nike HyperAdapt 1.0, the first performance vehicle for Nike's latest platform breakthrough, adaptive lacing.

The brains behind the brand new breakthrough are Tinker Hatfield, VP of Design and Special Projects at Nike and Tiffany Beers, Senior Innovator at Nike, who was also the project's technical lead. The two have been working on the project for over 10 years and have finally perfected their creation. Beers began pondering the mechanics shortly after the two met, as Hatfield dreamed of making adaptive lacing a reality. Beers began brainstorming with a group of engineers intent on testing theories and they first came up with a snowboard boot featuring an external generator. It resembles automatic buckling - the way snow boots or roller blades tighten. It was the first step towards Beers and Hatfield's original goal: to embed the technical components into such a small space that the design moves with the body and absorbs the same force the athlete is facing. "Innovation at Nike is not about dreaming of tomorrow. It's about accelerating toward it, says Hatfield. "we're able to anticipate the needs of athletes because we know them better than anybody. Sometimes, we deliver a reality before others have even begun to imagine it."

So how does the shoe work? The shoe translates deep research in digital, electrical, and mechanical engineering into a product designed for movement. "When you step in, your heel will hit a sensor and the system will automatically tighten," explains Beers. "Then there are two buttons on the side to tighten and loosen. You can adjust it until it's perfect." The shoes are extremely lightweight and rechargeable, able to run for about 2 weeks depending on how often it is worn and how much adjusting is does. The sole of the shoe even displays the shoe's battery life, and it is also where consumers charge the shoe.

For Hatfield and Beers, the idea behind the Nike HyperAdapt centered around solving a problem, the fact that every person has individual idiosyncrasies and a unique preference when it comes to shoelace tension. Their creation solves that problem by adjusting on the fly to people's own comfort. As innovators at Nike, they are experts in the needs of athletes and are always trying to find ways to improve their every day experience, which then translates down to the regular consumer. In addition, collaboration played a large role in the invention of the shoe. Hatfield and Beers were equally responsible in developing the technology and design behind the HyperAdapt, as they collaborated not only with each other, but innovators and athletes to perfect the shoe. The Nike HyperAdapt is the perfect solution to individual idiosyncrasies in lacing and tension preference...all for the low, low price of $720.



  1. As someone who enjoys running, I totally understand the motivation to get rid of laces. I can't begin to count the number of times that during a run I noticed that my shoes were either way too tight or loose causing great discomfort. Also, as of late the bigger issue has been the fact that my laces come untied during the run causing all sorts of issues. I like how you mentioned the importance of collaboration in the shoe development process. I personally believe that by working with numerous parties, especially athletes, helps to build consumer confidence. My only gripe with the product is the high price point, but hopefully that can come down in the coming years.

  2. This is definitely a great product. Although, it's funny because this isn't a completely novel idea. The idea for self adjusting shoes actually originated from the film Back to the Future 2, but technology wasn't advanced enough yet to bring that idea into a reality. Now, we have much more knowledge in the domain of engineering to make this very futuristic idea into a reality. This no doubt required a lot of expertise in many fields of study that are then combines into a new idea in order to create this product.I wonder what implications this would have for the future of athletics since there will be less hindrance on performance from shoe discomfort.


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