Feet First Toward The Future

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Let me introduce you to EARL. EARL stands for “electro-adapt reactive lacing” and the technology in EARL is what makes the Nike Mag and Nike HyperAdapt 1.0 the shoes of the future. These shoes are Nike’s first in the new wave of self-tying shoes. You may know the Nike Mag from the 1988 film Back To The Future II. If you haven’t seen that movie, or it’s been almost two decades since you have, Marty McFly slides his feet into a pair of extremely high topped sneakers and exclaims, “Power laces, alright!” as they tighten around his feet automatically. That scene and the sneakers themselves were actually envisioned by Tinker Hatfield, now Nike’s vice president of creative concepts, and the current Nike CEO, Mark Parker. While those shoes in 1988 were activated by a touch of movie magic, the decades old dream has now become a reality.

If you’re looking to get your hands on an almost exact copy of the shoes in the movie, you’ll need to shell out a pretty penny. Only 89 of the Nike Mags have been manufactured, and one pair has sold at a Hong Kong auction for over $100,000 already. All of the proceeds of the Nike Mags are being donated to Parkinson’s research through the Michael J. Fox Foundation, though, so if you’re looking for a big tax write off to go with your cool new sneakers, you’re in luck.

However, if you are just a little patient and have a free afternoon on your calendar in late November, you can set up an appointment at a select few Nike stores to try on and purchase the Nike HyperAdapt 1.0. The differences between the Nike Mag and HyperAdapt 1.0? For starters, the HyperAdapt has a less conspicuous design, longer battery life and less flash. The Nike Mags include a light that burns through the battery while the lights on the HyperAdapt 1.0 dim after six seconds and are only really there to let you know when the Adaptive Fit engine is working or when the sneakers need to be charged.

This isn’t the end for EARL and the adaptive fit technology either. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility to assume that there will be a Nike HyperAdapt 2.0, 3.0 or even a new line all together. Senior Innovator and the HyperAdapt 1.0 project’s technical lead Tiffany Beers has big ideas for this realm of technology. Team members on this product and all throughout the Nike company consider athletes’ wants and needs as the guiding light on all they do. So Beers describes the adaptive lacing concept as “a platform, something that helps envision a world in which product changes as the athlete changes.” Vis a vis, being smart and quick enough to recognize that you’re dunking a ball and might appreciate a tighter grip on your feet or ankles to improve stability and decrease distractions. But as we all know, you don’t actually have to be an athlete to buy and wear Nike products. Be on the lookout in November for a list of store locations where you can get the HyperAdapt 1.0.

TEXT HANNAH LITTLEFIELD
PHOTO COURTESY OF NIKE

THE DESIGN ISSUE

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