For its upcoming October Design Issue, Wired heads to Nike headquarters for an exclusive tour of the brand's underground lab, where the new power-lacing HyperAdapt 1.0 shoe was designed and developed. The story of the groundbreaking shoe, first unveiled at Nike's 2016 Innovation Summit back in March, is told by its creators, including design legend Tinker Hatfield, CEO Mark Parker and senior innovator Tiffany Beers, the woman responsible for engineering the futuristic sneaker.
An excerpt from the piece details some of the momentous obstacles that Beers faced in developing the self-lacing HyperAdapt 1.0:
Something like cold fear ran through Beers as she considered how to embed a powerful enough battery into a lightweight, streamlined sneaker. “I’m like, they want me to stick this in there? And add auto-lacing? Are they crazy?” She called any company she could think of that manufactured very small motors. She spoke with model-train people, medical-device people. The motor would be used to pull the laces tight—the “lace engine,” as Beers and her team would come to call this mechanism. She flew to Europe and Asia to attend industry conferences and trade shows. She became an expert in batteries. With the help of a mechanical engineer, she devised a rudimentary fit system, the cabling that would take the place of shoelaces in the sneaker. She breadboarded the electrical component systems she would need and had the Kitchen’s cobblers stitch up actual shoes into which she could insert them. Trial followed error and was repeated.
In addition to a detailed examination of the HyperAdapt 1.0, the article also describes some of the future projects being undertaken by the mad geniuses toiling away in the Kitchen. They're already working on future versions of a shoe that will adjust to the wearer's foot automatically and in real time, expanding as a runner’s foot naturally swells. They're also making other parts of the shoe automatically adaptable, like the breathability of the upper and the cushioning in the sole.
Scroll through the gallery below for an inside look at Nike's Innovation Kitchen, then read the article its entirety now at wired.com. The print issue hits newsstands on September 27.