Nike made a number of new product announcements at a glitzy event in New York yesterday, but perhaps the most exciting revelation was that the company is finally bringing a pair of self-tying sneakers to market — just like in that movie.
While Nike has teased prototypes and versions of the shoe from Back to the Future 2 in the past, with the HyperAdapt 1.0, the American sports apparel giant is finally bringing a pair of the futuristic wonders to market for anyone to buy. The sneakers sport “adaptive lacing” technology, which can automatically adjust the snugness of the shoe. “When you step in, your heel will hit a sensor and the system will automatically tighten,” said Tiffany Beers, Nike’s senior innovator, in a press release. “Then there are two buttons on the side to tighten and loosen. You can adjust it until it’s perfect.”
Essentially, wearers of the shoe can make quick “micro-adjustments,” which is much quicker than untying and retying the shoe altogether — a process that may preclude users from making the adjustment at all. The new system also means that the age-old calamity of tripping over loose laces could soon be a thing of the past.
Michael J. Fox, star of the Back to the Future trilogy, was presented with a version of these shoes last year to mark the 30th anniversary of the first movie. Though a limited number of these “Nike Mag” sneakers are being made available to buy at auction, the HyperAdapt 1.0 represent a final incarnation that’s ready for mass-market distribution. In other words, science fiction is about to become science fact.
The process saw Beers brainstorming with a group of engineers intent on testing her theories. They first came up with a snowboard boot featuring an external generator. While far from the ideal, it was the first of a series of strides toward 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.
While some may argue that self-tying sneakers is simply a way for lazy people to be ever more lazy, Nike is adamant that the system offers many benefits beyond saving you a few priceless seconds, particularly for serious athletes. “It’s a platform,” said esteemed Nike designer Tinker Hatfield. “Something that helps envision a world in which product changes as the athlete changes. It is amazing to consider a shoe that senses what the body needs in real-time. That eliminates a multitude of distractions, including mental attrition, and thus truly benefits performance.”
In other words, you can easily adjust a shoe if, say, your foot expands due to it heating up during a run — there’s no need to mess around with laces, just tap a button. Though the process for now is still manual, this could change.
“Wouldn’t it be great if a shoe, in the future, could sense when you needed to have it tighter or looser?,” continued Hatfield. “Could it take you even tighter than you’d normally go if it senses you really need extra snugness in a quick maneuver? That’s where we’re headed. In the future, product will come alive.”
The HyperAdapt 1.0 will be available to Nike+ members “beginning Holiday 2016,” according to Nike, and will come in three colors. The company hasn’t given an indication of price as of yet. Check out the official promo video below.