Nike provided a glimpse of what the future of footwear could look like by introducing the first self-lacing smart basketball shoe on Tuesday.
The Adapt BB, priced at $350, does more than just lace itself. Using a power lacing system called Fit Adapt, users can adjust to find the perfect fit whether it’s manually or digitally, using the Nike Adapt mobile app. A custom motor and gear train tighten or loosen to customize to your foot.
For Nike, this opens a new world of smart data insights into athletes’ workouts. For athletes, it represents a new era and way they interact with sneakers.
“Athletes will be able to update and evolve their shoes with upgrades, new features and services all through smartphone technology inside their footwear,” said Michael Donaghu, Nike’s vice president of innovation.
While Nike touts this shoe as a “mobile sports research lab on feet everywhere,” the shoe currently doesn’t provide any data, but the company said that will be coming.
“We are moving from fit to firmware,” said Donaghu.
Nike researchers said the Nike Adapt BB is the most tested shoe in its history. The company chose basketball as the first sport because of the demands basketball players put on their shoes with fast cuts and constant sprints.
Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum has been the guinea pig secretly testing the Adapt behind the scenes. Tatum will wear the Adapt BB in the shoe’s professional debut Wednesday night when the Celtics play the Toronto Raptors. The shoe is available to customers beginning Feb. 17.
Tatum said he’s most impressed by how the shoe fits. “I try to tell people that it fits l like a glove. It’s better than laces. There’s no movement in there and it’s very secure,” Tatum told CNBC.
Customization is another key feature of the Adapt BB. The two buttons at the bottom of the shoe light up in the color of your choice while programming them, a feature that Tatum finds particularly interesting.
“I love the fact that it’s one of a kind … my favorite part is just changing the colors. You can customize it to be your own shoe in a way and I think that’s the coolest part for me,” he added.
With a smart shoe comes new responsibilities — like having to charge the shoes every 10-14 days via a charging pad that comes with the shoes. While the shoes work without a phone (you can adjust using the buttons), a smartphone is required to get that perfect fit and customization.