Nike just announced a product that should cause "Back to the Future" fans to freak the heck out. The company revealed HyperAdapt 1.0, a self-lacing system triggered when you place your foot inside the shoe. When your heel hits a sensor, the laces automatically tighten. Two buttons on the side adjust the fit, making it tighter or looser.
Nike introduced the technology Wednesday by saying it has manifested the "unimaginable." Except it has been imagined. We saw a preview back in 1989 when Marty McFly donned a pair of Air Mags with power laces. And we've wanted them to be real ever since.
Nike designer Tinker Hatfield sees HyperAdapt as the perfect solution to adjusting the fit of shoes during athletic competitions where laces can loosen or shoes may feel too tight as feet swell. "It challenges traditional understanding of fit, proposing an ultimate solution to individual idiosyncrasies in lacing and tension preference," Nike says.
Actor Michael J. Fox, who played McFly, got a first chance to try out some real self-lacing shoes when Nike sent him a pair last year. That was in the midst of fan festivities around Back to the Future Day on October 21, 2015 (the day McFly arrived in the future during the 1989 film "Back to the Future: Part II").
The Fox sneakers fulfilled a promise by Hatfield, who said power laces would become a reality in 2015. Real HyperAdapt-equipped shoes will be a dream come true for many "Back to the Future" fans. Nike will make the kicks available to members of its Nike+ profile and training-tracking service starting in late 2016.
The HyperAdapt laces are just part of a suite of innovations Nike announced Wednesday. Other advancements include an antimud polymer for football shoes that resists clogging, and a new Nike+ app for product recommendations and performance tracking for athletes.
It's important to note the "1.0" designation after the HyperAdapt name. This is just the beginning. "Wouldn't it be great if a shoe, in the future, could sense when you needed to have it tighter or looser? 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," says Hatfield. "In the future, [products] will come alive."