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HOW NIKE BROUGHT FUTURE SNEAKERS TO TODAY’S CUSTOMER

NIKE was clever enough to use the cult movie Back to the Future II to connect to a future customer way back in 1989. The ‘time-travel’ science fiction movie used a concept called ‘POWER LACES’ to self-lace its futuristic sneaker worn by the character Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox. The concept has now become a reality to the delight of cult fans and sneaker lovers around the world. In this article, we take a look inside how this technology works and the impact it will have on the future of design.

So, here’s how your Nike sneakers can self tighten.
The trick is all hidden in the sole of the sneaker. By pushing the activator on the heel of the sneaker, a motorized cylinder coils the shoe laces and as a result makes them custom fit on a person foot. Sounds simple right? Nike’s ‘power laces’ concept was only patented in July 2014 (US patent 8769844). The lacing system consists of two parts around the ankle and in the sole of the sneaker. The self-lacing system shown in figures 122 and 13 has a strap powered by a small rotating motor that rotates a drive shaft with two gears. The ankle has a different system powered by a coil spring that pulls and tightens the ankle strap.

 

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Image Source: Nike Mag

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Image Source: Nike Mag

Nikes commitment to investing in bettering products for their customers has been relentless for a number of years. Recently their investment into Digital Sports, headed up by Stefan Olander (Nike Fuel Band) and its 3D Printed Flyknit Vipor shoes has transformed sporting performance. So Nike, the most innovative sporting company in the world has made the ‘power laces’ concept into a mass market dream called the HyperAdapt 1.0.  “Innovation at Nike is not about dreaming of tomorrow. It’s about accelerating toward it,” says Tinker 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.”

The outcome is a new technology called ‘Adaptive Lacing’. Driven by deep digital research, this new technology is fully automated unlike the Back to the Future II concept Nike sneaker. Once a customer or sports person puts their heel into the Hyper Adapt, it automatically senses this through a combination of digital, electrical and mechanical engineering. Two buttons exist on the side of the shoe to loosen or tighten until its perfect. The true benefit comes from insight into high performance particularly when feet slippage is common in traditional lace ups. “That’s an important step, because feet undergo an incredible amount of stress during competition,” says Tinker Hatfield.

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Image Source: Nike – Hyper Adapt 1.0

Born out of a movie classic and revisited for its 25th year anniversary, the Nike Back to the Future II concept sneaker has inspired the team at Nike to develop yet another innovation in sports. Innovation director at Nike, Tiffany Beers says, “It’s a platform, something that helps envision a world in which product changes as the athlete changes.” The innovation that is Hyper Adapt allowed the team at Nike to work and brainstorm with a group of engineers to find the best solution for customers in market. (Quotes sourced directly from Nike.com. See Nike for more.)


IMPACT ON DESIGNERS
Designers these days have their work cut out for them if they are not working at Nike. Its difficult to compete with a company who can instantly access top level athletes for prototyping, trials and testing. Nike have the monopoly on the market and from the days of Michael Jordan, have managed to understand the value of creating a culture driven on feeding the innovative creative mind.

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Image source: boreto.com.br


OPPORTUNITY FOR DESIGNERS
The team at Future Hub remains objective on most issues and will always put people before any brand, company. But when it comes to Nike, and if you are a designer focused on sporting performance or sneaker design, you have to try to get a job here. Apart from working for one of the world’s most innovative companies, you will have the ability, access and pursuit to dream big and accomplish greatness. Please apply for jobs here. Like most people, working at Nike is purely a dream, then research all you can about how they are doing things, what drives their mindset for innovation and duplicate this within your environment.

If you love this review, we highly recommend you head to our trend shop and check out our report on 3D Printing.

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