Money Tree Or Money Pit? Nike’s Auto-Lacing Adapt BB

So the story has been pinging around the internet since its announcement three days ago and people are, well, confused. Why on earth do we need a self-lacing sneaker? What happens if the wifi goes down?

Well, first lets mention that this is a basketball sneaker, designed with the needs of pro ballers in mind. They’re biggest problem, their sneakers. Many players complain of sore feet pre and post game and around 87% of players are actually lacing their shoes too tight, restricting blood flow and causing pain. Over the course of a basketball game, the foot can expand almost a half-size during play. A level of fit that feels comfortable at one point might feel constrictive just 24 minutes later. Because the needs of the foot change at any given time based on the sport, its duration and on specific movements, like a slashing cut to the basket, “perfect fit” is a floating target. So, Nike being Nike wanted to solve this.

But how does it all work?
Well, when a player steps into the Nike Adapt BB, a custom motor and gear train senses the tension needed by the foot and adjusts accordingly to keep the foot snug. The tensile strength of the underfoot lacing is able to pull 32 pounds of force (roughly equal to that of a standard parachute cord) to secure the foot throughout a range of movement.

“We picked basketball as the first sport for Nike Adapt intentionally because of the demands that athletes put on their shoes,” – Eric Avar, Nike VP Creative Director of Innovation.

Next, the “brain” (FitAdapt tech) kicks in. By manual touch or by using the Nike Adapt app on a smartphone, players can input different fit settings depending on different moments of a game. For example, during a timeout, a player can loosen the shoe before tightening it up as they re-enter the game. In a forthcoming feature, they can even prescribe a different tightness setting for warm-ups. Plus, players can opt into firmware updates for the FitAdapt technology as they become available, sharpening the precision of fit for players and providing new digital services over time.

Sounds impressive right? But what, are we going to see hoards of players pulling out their phones during timeouts to adjust and reset their shoes now? Surely the NBA wont be allowing that?

Now some see this as a Nike promo ploy, showing they’re still ahead of the curve and always thinking of “their athletes”, but we’re not such sceptics. Nike has continually pushed the borders with what we as humans can do with the right hardware and this is just another example. It remains to be seen if this will really take off, personally, it’s not for us. But that being said we’ve said it before and they’ve always won us over eventually.

Some brief notes that you might be wondering about:

  • Nike says battery life clocks in at between 10-14 days with multiple adjustments per day.
  • The shoe always reserves 5 percent battery to unlace the shoes to get you out.
  • Charging takes under three hours with the wireless charging mat to full.
  • There is currently no Apple Watch app, but Nike says they’ve been thinking about it.

Money tree or money pit? We’ll soon see!


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