Twenty years ago it seemed a mere science-fiction fantasy. Now, self-lacing kicks are here and they are pretty damn dope…and woefully pricey.
Nearly two decades after the Back to the Future Part II teased movie goers with cool “kicks” that laced themselves, Nike has released the real-world version of the self-tying footwear, the $720 HyperAdapt 1.0 shoes.
They give off a high-tech vibe from the moment you open the box. After all, when is the last time you bought a pair of shoes that come with a magnetic charging puck and a USB wall adapter? It’s similar to the packaging of a phone or video game console.
Once you slide your feet into a pair and stand up, you know you’re in no ordinary pair of shoes. They are battery powered. Motors whir and lights flash along the back and bottom of the sneakers. The laces tighten. A sensor inside the shoe communicates with the motor to tell the sneaker exactly how much to tighten, working together to create a customized fit around your feet.
Two buttons along the sides of each shoe allow you to adjust the fit as needed, with the top button tightening the laces and the bottom loosening.
Check out New York Giants star Odell Beckham, Jr. try them on for the first time.
Beckham and Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving are among a few of the star athletes who have shown off their fancy “kicks” online, suggesting there’s a clear cache to having a pair.
Nike says it’s pushing this particular model for runners and all-around athletes, stressing that it’s a performance shoe.
“We’ve tested it in basketball, running and training,” says Tiffany Beers, senior innovator at Nike and one of the co-creators of the HyperAdapts.
But Beers says that as development proceeded, it became clear that self-tying shoe can help more than athletes. She says she has received letters indicating it could be beneficial for those suffering from debilitating diseases like multiple sclerosis. Many have a daily struggle putting on their shoes. One of Beers’ colleagues who is seven months pregnant also loved them.
“If you’ve ever tried to reach your feet while you are pregnant, it’s a whole ‘nother ball game,” Beers says.
The shoes are charged by placing the bottom of each shoe onto the magnetic charging pucks, a process not that different from how one charges an Apple Watch. With no additional technology such as Bluetooth or a GPS for tracking runs, Nike claims the battery can last for at least two weeks.
The shoes take around three hours to charge. The light along the bottom flashes to show battery power levels every time you lace up. In the event your battery runs out of juice while the shoes are on your feet, you can push the bottom of the two buttons to loosen the laces and free yourself. Or, since it’s a low top, just slip your foot out.
“I’ve gone over ten weeks without charging them,” says Beers, who notes she adjusts them a few times a day. “It totally depends on how you use it.”
There is also the issue of durability. While a little rain shouldn’t be a problem, the shoes are not waterproof or even water-resistant. A heavy downpour or being submerged in a puddle presents a risk.
But this is too be expected with such an early version of a new technology. Looking ahead Beers sees the self-lacing tech not only becoming cheaper, but also adjusting to your foot automatically as you run or play sports.
“This is the first step into the future of ‘adaptive fit’ and this is just a baby step,” says Beers. “The potential that this has… that’s where we’re going.”