Fans of technological advancements in the future, or at least of the time travel-themed “Back to the Future” film series, have long been fascinated with one scene from the second movie of the trilogy. Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly has travelled to the then-future year of 2015 and, to blend in, has put on futuristic clothing including a jacket that can dry itself…and a pair of sweet power-lace high-top sneakers. It was a Nike (fictional) product placement that the shoemaking company spent some effort making into reality, with some prototypes and also limited-edition runs. Soon, the latest iteration of this cool “future” concept will debut.
The Verge has it that Nike will soon make available for preorder their newest take on the quest for a true and practical self-lacing sports shoes, ahead of its going on sale next month. This is the Nike HyperAdapt BB, a series of sneakers that has been optimized for playing basketball. Still, describing these electronic Bluetooth-enable shoes as “self-lacing” comes across as seemingly old-fashioned, considering that compared to its immediate predecessor the HyperAdapt 1.0, the BB has apparently no laces at all. Actually, the lace cable is under the shoes’ exterior but its mechanism goes beyond what one thinks of traditional shoelaces in “manual” sneakers.
How the Nike HyperAdapt BB works is one of the smartest applications of tech on footwear without actually making it smart as a smartphone. Having the lacing mechanisms tighten up once you stick your feet inside the shoes is sweet enough. But how about having the same mechanisms automatically adjust by loosening or re-tightening the fit automatically on your feet while you are on the court, to compensate for foot swelling as you move around? Nike feels confident that the HyperAdapt BB basic design will make more feasible general mass-production of these auto-lacing athletic shoes.
Nike’s determination to make self-lacing sneakers and develop the tech that would go into them stemmed of course from their product placement in “Back to the Future II” which premiered in 1989. The fictional AirMag shoes in the film were conceptualized by then-designer Tinker Hatfield, who has since become VP of design and special projects for Nike. Nike worked on de-fictionalizing the Mag, with versions released in 2011 and 2016 before moving on to the HyperAdapt 1.0 in 2017. Actor Michael J. Fox appreciated the developments, as self-lacing footwear would be a boon to him and other Parkinson’s disease sufferers.
The new Nike HyperAdapt BB’s will see some real action this Wednesday, January 16 in the NBA when Boston Celtic Jayson Tatum test-wears a pair for his team’s home game against the Toronto Raptors. It will go on sale February 17, at Nike stores and online, retail price at $350.
Image courtesy of Hypebeast