Technology

Nike unveils shoes with self-tightening laces - and you can actually buy them this time

Nike will finally release a futuristic shoe with self-tightening laces, fulfilling a dream for athletes and Back to the Future II fans alike, although the company is keen to tell you it developed the idea all on its own.

On October 21, 2015 — the release date of the Nike Mag sneakers in the film — Nike unveiled a one-off replica pair of the shoes which were auctioned off in support of the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

But in a release that steadfastly refuses to reference the 1989 classic film by name, Nike says the Mag was the official debut of adaptive lace technology it had been working on for years, and which now powers a general release product called the HyperAdapt 1.0.

Nike's Tiffany Beers, who is the project's technical lead and whose official title is senior innovator, had been collaborating with designer Tinker Hatfield to develop a self-tightening lace system since 2013, the release says.

"In April 2015, Beers was tasked with making a self-lacing Nike Mag to celebrate the icon's true fictional release date," it continues.

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"Shortly after, the completion of the more technical, sport version they'd originally conceived, the Nike HyperAdapt 1.0, confirmed the strength of the apparatus."

The underfoot lacing system on the HyperAdapt 1.0 is manual, meaning the tension must be adjusted as necessary by the athlete, although Nike's ultimate vision is to have shoes that tighten and loosen automatically as the athlete moves. There is, however, a system in the HyperAdapt 1.0 to ensure a dramatic-looking tightening as soon as you step into the shoe, akin to the 'Power Laces' on the cinematic Mag.

"When you step in, your heel will hit a sensor and the system will automatically tighten," says Beer.

"Then there are two buttons on the side to tighten and loosen. You can adjust it until it's perfect."

The HyperAdapt sneakers will be available by the end of the year, but will only be sold to members of Nike's Nike+ athlete tracking service. There's no word on pricing as yet.

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