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Tie one on: 'Back to the Future'-style auto-lacing shoes are here

The future is (almost) now as a self-lacing shoes arrives on Kickstarter with a lofty funding goal that may be hard to reach.

Powerlace shoe
These laces don't need tying. Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Nike designer Tinker Hatfield declared earlier this year that he expects self-lacing shoes like those seen in "Back to the Future: Part II" to become reality by 2015, which also happens to be the future year the time-traveling Michael J. Fox flick is set in. It looks like a Kickstarter project has gotten a jump on Nike by introducing Powerlace, an auto-lacing shoe technology.

The laces are activated by stepping down on a trigger situated inside the shoe at the heel. Pressing down on it as you put the shoe on tightens the laces automatically. To undo them, you pull a lever on the back of the shoe. The system is not quite as magical as the one on display in "Back to the Future: Part II," but it seems to work effectively for the Powerlace prototype shoes.

These fancy shoes do come at a price. The regular pledge price is about $170 (around £110, AU$198). The Kickstarter campaign has 57 days to go and has so far raised over $11,000 towards a massive $575,500 goal. It will require a whole lot of high-tech shoe fans chipping in to reach that level of funding. It will be interesting to see if the project can make it, despite only offering men's sizes in a tennis-shoe style. The team behind Powerlace says it plans to create women's shoes in the future.

It's not like auto-lacing shoes are a necessity for living, but they do have an undeniable cool factor based on the cachet of Marty McFly's Air Mags. Fans of the movie series may be a little turned off by the sedate outward design of the Powerlace shoes. The holy grail for self-lacing shoes won't be realized until the day we get a lace system like Powerlace integrated into a shoe like's official replicas. Then, we can all feel like we just stepped out of a souped-up DeLorean and that a hoverboard in every home is just around the corner.