The Edge

Behold Nike's Vision for the Future of Footwear

The Oregon behemoth revealed a few crazy new shoe concepts at its recent Innovation for Everybody event. Here are the ones worth paying attention to.

Behold Nike's Vision for the Future of Footwear

From left: the HyperAdapt 1.0, Zoom Superfly Flyknit, Air VaporMax, and Anti-Clog Traction cleat. Photo: Nike

It’s hard to make a shoe that’s truly different from everything else. But Nike just dropped several at its recent Innovation for Everybody event in New York City that are unlike anything you’ve ever seen. From a shoe that automatically adapts to your foot to a soccer cleat that’s impossible to clog with mud, here are the most exciting innovations that caught our eye.

Nike Air VaporMax

Nike Innovation Summit 2016   Photo: Nike

“Walking on air has always been the dream. And over the years we’ve gotten very close. But foam and rubber have always gotten in the way . . . until now that is.” With those words, Mark Parker introduced the Nike Air VaporMax—a shoe that “delivers on the original promise of Nike Air.” For the first time, wearers will get to experience a standalone Air outsole—Nike’s trademark cushioning system unimpeded by any additional structural material. The shoe, which also has a Flyknit upper, is slated to go on sale spring 2017.

Nike HyperAdapt 1.0

Nike Innovation Summit 2016   Photo: Nike

Nike’s star designer Tinker Hatfield was on hand to introduce the Nike HyperAdapt 1.0, a shoe that introduces “adaptive lacing.” When you step into it, your heel activates a sensor, which causes the laces to automatically tighten. Further adjustments can be made by pressing a plus or minus button on the side. This, Hatfield says, is only the beginning. “Wouldn’t it be great if a shoe, in the future, could sense when you needed to have it tighter or looser?” he asks. “Could it take you even tighter than you’d normally go if it senses you really need extra snugness in a quick maneuver? That’s where we’re headed. In the future, product will come alive.”

Nike Zoom Superfly Flyknit

Nike Innovation Summit 2016   Photo: Nike

One of the overriding themes at the Innovation for Everybody event was that we are now in the era of personalized performance, where top athletes want products customized to fit their specific needs. The Nike Zoom Superfly Flyknit sprint spikes, which four-time Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix will be wearing this summer in Rio, are a case in point. The shoe’s mold was tailored to the specific contours of Felix’s feet. New manufacturing techniques like 3D-print prototyping and SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) have made it much easier to render trial models during the development phase, making the fine-tuning process that much more, well, fine. As Nike states, “30 versions of [the] spike’s plate were produced and the Flyknit upper was tweaked over 70 times before the team felt secure they’d landed on Felix’s pinnacle personalized solution.”

Nike Anti-Clog Traction

  Photo: Nike

In what could eventually prove to be a literal “game-changer” for all sports played on muddy terrain, Nike’s new “Anti-Clog Traction” technology has apparently solved the long-standing issue of unwanted mud adhering to the soles of soccer cleats. Constructed from an adaptive polymer, the anti-clog surface on upcoming Nike “football boots” reacts with water to create a more lubricious sole. If this works as well as Nike says it does, you’ll no longer need to bang your cleats together after playing soccer in the rain. Anti-Clog Traction will be available on certain models of Nike soccer shoes over the Nike Football App, starting April 15.

Filed To: Running Shoes

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