Nike Sneaker-Cleaning Robot Looks Like a Car Wash for Shoes
Say hello to the Bot Initiated Longevity Lab, or BILL, that's stepping up to deep-clean your kicks.
Leslie KatzFormer Culture Editor
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If you use a damp cloth and soap to clean your dirty sneakers, you're stuck in 2021. Meet BILL (Bot Initiated Longevity Lab), Nike's new robot-powered system for cleaning and repairing kicks.
At first glance, Big BILL looks like the ultimate Rube Goldberg machine (a contraption intentionally designed to complicate a simple task). Nike, however, insists BILL not only cleans shoes, but deep cleans and fixes them, extending their life and contributing to the company's efforts to produce gear that can be remade and reused.
After a shoe gets loaded into BILL, the machine creates a 3D digital model of the footwear that determines which parts most need cleaning with the bot's big, swooshy multicolored brushes. If the shoe has torn spots, shoppers can select patches of recyclable polyester to repair the wear and tear. For a personal touch, Nike store employees add new liners and laces made from recycled materials. The process takes up to 45 minutes from start to finish.
The machine is now undergoing a trial run at Nike Town London, where customers can use it free of charge. "People will go to great lengths to care for their favorite shoes," Noah Murphy-Reinhertz, sustainability lead at Nike NXT said in a statement. "Repairing a product is a way to extend our memory with a product. We see BILL as a tool for being able to do that."
BILL can currently clean Air Force 1s, Air Jordan 1s, Space Hippie 01s and Nike Dunks, but may have a tough time handling these virtual Nike NFT Cryptokicks that sold for $130K earlier this year.