Nike ushered in the “era of personalized performance” with several new products, including a personal fitness app and what it is calling the first self-lacing shoe for the consumer, during a showy product launch event in New York City on Wednesday afternoon.
The Nike HyperAdapt 1.0, which will be available toward the end of the year, employs what Nike has dubbed “adaptive lacing.” The shoe auto-closes when you insert your foot—after your heel makes contact with a sensor—and then can be tightened and loosened by pressing “plus” or “minus” buttons on its exterior. The shoe’s battery lasts about two weeks, and includes inductive recharging.
The development of the shoe has its own backstory, with plenty of twists and turns. Beginning in 2013, Nike’s senior innovator, Tiffany Beers, brainstormed with a team of engineers to create a shoe that included adaptive technology. Initially they created a snowboard boot with an external generator; many prototypes and attempts later, they arrived at an underfoot-lacing mechanism. In April 2015, Beers was assigned to recreate the self-lacing Nike Mag shoes featured in Back to the Future—a task that eventually resulted in the HyperAdapt 1.0.
“We’ve created a system in which every system works in concert toward one goal—and that’s speed,” said Nike president and CEO Mark Parker, who opened the event with a keynote. “We define ourselves by athletes’ performance… Our obsession is to deliver the unimaginable to athletes.”
The new Nike+ app, also introduced today, is intended to be a “personal coach” for athletes from all walks of life. The app will offer advice on, say, what to wear while running or how to change up your workout routine. And when Nike releases new products, members can reserve them through the app to avoid the hassle of waiting in line. “Today, athletes want more than a dashboard,” Parker said. “They want a relationship… you have to understand what each of them needs as an individual.”
“We’re at a new era of sport,” he continued. “It’s the era of personalized performance.”
Nike also unveiled a slew of other shoes and technologies, including anti-clog traction that separates mud from soccer cleats and the Free RN Motion Flyknit, which optimizes the natural function of the foot.
“Your foot expands by two widths and one full size during every strike of the foot,” explained a Nike representative showing off the Free RN Motion Flyknit shoe at the event. “So we asked how we could mimic that motion. This shoe puts the foot in control.”
To add some celebrity appeal, comedian Kevin Hart kicked off the event by cracking a few jokes and reiterating the Nike motto: “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”