Nike announces self-tying shoes

Published: October 30, 2015

STEVEN DEPRIMO
Science & Tech Correspondent

As a leader in sportswear attire, Nike is no stranger to pushing the limits on what a normal article of clothing should be. Nike, originally Blue Ribbon Sports, was first a shoe distributer for currently-known company, Asics.

Then in 1971, Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight, both track and field athletes and enthusiasts, decided to branch off and create their own company that held the name of the greek goddess of victory.

First they introduced a game changing “waffle sole” track and field shoe that would revolutionize the way athletes trained, as it provided a better grip on the track. Then again in 1987, the athletic industry was shaken by Nike when it introduced a brand new shoe design that included an air bubble in the heel, dubbed the “Air Max.”

And now in 2015, Nike is once again stealing the show. The “Back to the Future” movie franchise was a major success. In the second movie, main character Marty McFly is given a pair of futuristic Nike shoes with automatic laces.

As many moviegoers and internet users know, Marty and his friend Doc Brown traveled to the date October 21, 2015. That date came with serious amounts of internet memes, and one very anticipated video that was released by Nike.

The video shows Michael J. Fox, the actor that played Marty McFly, trying on that same pair of Nike sneakers. Except this time, it wasn’t movie magic that made the laces tighten themselves, it was real life ingenuity and engineering.

The new and improved Nike Mag, Nike’s new self-tying shoes, is something many sneaker collectors have been waiting for.

They are designed with a small two gear motor that is embedded in the sole. This motor is powered by a battery that is built into the back heel of each shoe, and activated by one of two buttons that are located on the outside heel of each shoe.

The green button, when pressed, activates the motor which rotates the gears to the right and tightens the lace straps and shin strap. The red button, when pressed does the opposite as it loosens all straps.

Many people have asked when the battery gets turned on, since there is no legitimate on and off switch in the shoe.

Interestingly enough, designer Tinker Hatfield and his engineering team were able to put a pressure sensor in the inner sole of the shoe, which activates the battery when pressure is applied.

Many readers are probably asking the same question. Why is this such a big deal? If speaking about the Mag specifically, a portion of the profits from each pair would go to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation which funds Parkinson’s research.
These shoes will be auctioned off, but to give a good estimate, the previous edition of this shoe (the one with no auto-laces) can be purchased for over $9000. On Ebay they can auction off for more than $15,000.

No matter the case, these shoes are an impressive piece of work both from the technical engineering side, and the artistic designer side. They combine technical work never before seen in a sneaker, and will change the way that athletic shoes will be worn and applied on the field and in the home.

Contact the writer: steven.deprimo@scranton.edu

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