Self-lacing Shoe Future Arrives With Nike's HyperAdapt 1.0

Nike Adds Self-Lacing Shoes to Sneaker Arms Race WSJnews
Nike Adds Self-Lacing Shoes to Sneaker Arms Race WSJnews


Of all the cool gadgets and kooky technological advances envisioned by the makers of the "Back to the Future" franchise, the hoverboard is the one that still seems to captivate people. No, not those ridiculous motorized skateboards that you can find kids whirling around on in just about any suburban street in America these days. Marty McFly's hoverboard actually hovered and moved without touching the ground.

Still, the floating surfboard wasn't the only futuristic development that the "Back to the Future" gang thought we'd all be enjoying by 2016. They also hooked Marty up with a sweet pair of self-lacing high tops. Now, Nike is getting ready to hit the market with their own version of those user friendly kicks.

The HyperAdapt 1.0 is the first generation of self-fitting sneakers, a shoe that aims to eliminate some of the hassle and guesswork for athletes when it comes to lacing up. It features what designers at the swoosh factory call "adaptive lacing," technology that forms the shoe to a user's foot and adjusts to movement along the way.

Nike has been a little tight on the details behind how their power-shoe technology works. What we do know is that the shoes rely on a heel sensor to tell them when a foot slips inside and helps adjust the fit accordingly. Buttons on the side allow the wearer to manually adjust that fit on the fly. Those "micro adjustments" make it easier for wearers to make small tweaks to the fit, instead of having to tie and re-tie their kicks until they get it right.

HyperAdapts should be ready to hit the field in late 2016. They're the result of years of research and development by Nike engineers and designers at the company's sprawling Oregon headquarters campus. One of the original prototypes was something like a snowboard boot that fastened itself from beneath the foot. The finished product is a lot less clunky, but the sleek cross-training model still relies on the same under-the-shoe adjusting technology.

The idea is to let athletes focus on the action on the field instead of the sneakers on their feet. They don't have to worry about fumbling over their laces in the middle of a workout or slipping and sliding over loose laces. And if Biff or any of the "Back to the Future" bad guys show up looking for trouble, you don't have to tie hunch over and tie your kicks before you get the heck outta Hill Valley.