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Nike debuts self-lacing shoe, highlighting big day of innovation in NYC

Nike introduced a revolutionary new lacing system and other product innovations at a New York City event, featuring CEO Mark Parker and highlighting their continued evolution of sport and technology. 

There was significant buzz about Nike’s HyperAdapt 1.0, which features an adaptive lacing solution, taking its cues from digital, electrical and mechanical engineering. The Beaverton, Ore.-based company also debuted several other products including a next-generation app and high-performance materials for both clothing and footwear.

The HyperAdapt system refers to “adaptive lacing.” The self-lacing concept was famously included in 1989’s Back to the Future. Michael J. Fox, who starred as Marty McFly in the film, tried a pair of Nike Mag out last year — sent to him by Tinker Hatfield, the legendary Nike designer who, along with Tiffany Beers, Senior Innovator at Nike, the project’s technical lead, presented the new technology. 

Hatfield dreamed of making adaptive lacing a reality and he asked if she wanted to figure it out. But it wasn't a replication of preexisting idea but rather building it from the “the first baby step to get to a more sophisticated place.” Parker also had input and helped guide the design. 

Throughout 2013, Hatfield and Beers worked on a number of new systems and prototypes and went through several trials, finally arriving at an underfoot-lacing mechanism. In April 2015 Beers was then tasked with making the self-lacing Nike Mag, which Fox tried on October 21st and shared with the world on Twitter. 

The system and technology is far from a gimmick and has huge potential for athletes, providing tailored-to-the-moment custom fit to enhance performance. “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,” said Hatfield. 

“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 maneuver? That’s where we’re headed. In the future, product will come alive,” noted Hatfield. 

The first generation of the technology is manual (underscoring the 1.0 designation) but its introduction points to an interesting future. The HyperAdapt will be available to Nike+ members only beginning in the 2016 holiday season.

Other highlights from the event included:

A revamped app

The new Nike+ app, slated for June 2016 release, has been positioned as an athlete’s “all access pass” to coveted Nike products and events. The “plus,” according to the company, now equates to “personal” and includes a new, continuously updated feed tab featuring tailored training tips from coaches and trainers, inspiration from Nike athletes and information about the latest releases, a more customized store and a “services” tab that connects consumers directly to Nike+ experts to answer questions about Nike+ services, book one-on-one reservations in select stores and connects to companion apps including Nike+ SNKRS, a “sneakerhead” app for new and popular shoe releases.

Anti-clog traction

Long the bane of a footballer’s existence, Nike introduced its “Anti-Clog Traction” technology, where mud is prevented from clogging the sole plate. 

“Mud has always presented unfortunate but seemingly accepted problems. Players are accustomed to clanking their boots together as they exit the pitch or rubbing them over harsh brushes to remove mud. Worse, they play slower and cautiously as mud makes their feet heavy and compromises their traction,” says Max Blau, VP of Nike Football Footwear.

The technology was developed over the course of two years. Dr. Jeremy Walker, with backgrounds in materials science engineering and chemistry, was one of several PhDs working on this project.

“Understanding the molecular structure of mud was key to developing a hydrophilic solution, which helps keep mud from clogging the plate,” said Walker. 

The technology will initially be available in limited quantities via the Nike Football App on April 15.

Vapor kits

Three sports, basketball, track and field and soccer received apparel upgrades with the new Vapor line featuring AeroSwift technology. 

The basketball and track and field lines were created partially from recycled polyester, which is rendered from plastic bottles to produce fine yarn, and designed to minimize weight. The soccer kits were a result of testing hundreds of yarns to find the right balance.

“We got right down to the filament level and re-mastered it for a texturized surface that helps disband moisture better,” said Martin Lotti, Nike Creative Director.

New Flyknit and Nike Air

Nike’s Flyknit technology was also on display in the lead up to the summer Olympic Games in Rio, with gold medal-winning sprinter Allyson Felix debuting the result of a collaboration with the Nike Sports Research Lab (NSRL), the Zoom Superfly Flyknit.

“One of the things that I love about the process is that I'm not an expert in this, but I have all this science behind me. This is what [Nike] does and this is what they're passionate about,” said Felix. “I can have confidence that they're going to give me the best equipment.” 

According to the company, Flyknit technology reduces waste by about 60 per cent on average compared to traditional “cut and sew” footwear and has reduced 3.5m pounds of waste since 2012.

Additional Flyknit shoes included Kevin Durant’s new Air Zoom KD9, the Mercurial Superfly soccer boot, RN Motion running shoe and the Hyperdunk 2016 basketball shoe.

The company also revealed a new VaporMax air unit, which eliminates the need for a traditional foam midsole, reducing both weight and waste. 

New Nike product and technology releases

Nike HyperAdapt system
 
 
Nike anti-clog technology
Nike anti-clog system
 
 
Allyson Felix's Rio track spikes
 
 
Kevin Durant
 
 
Allyson Felix
 
 
Cristiano Ronaldo
 
 
New Nike air
 
 
New Nike+ app
 
 
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