Nike taps into fit customization with app-enabled sneakers


Nike has launched a power lacing sneaker that allows users to customize the shoe’s fit through a dedicated app, called Nike Adapt.

The Adapt BB, which is targeting basketball players, uses the brand’s newly developed fit technology, FitAdapt, to adjust the shoe onto the person’s foot and give them the most comfortable and personalized experience. It is inspired, once more, by the self-lacing sneakers in the Back to the Future II movie from the 1980s; a dream that Nike has been chasing ever since.

It works by using pressure sensors to register the foot and activates a tiny motor and gear, which then tightens or, in other words, laces the upper side of the shoe. After it is securely attached to the player’s foot, the fit of the shoe can be adjusted either manually, by pressing a specific area on the sneaker, or by using a designated smartphone app.

For basketball players the sneaker is especially useful as they can adjust the fit of the shoe based on different moments in a game. For example, when the player is taking a time out or has finished the match and their feet are swollen after strenuous activity, the shoe can be loosened for comfort.

“We picked basketball as the first sport for Nike Adapt intentionally because of the demands that athletes put on their shoes,” says Eric Avar, Nike’s VP creative director of innovation. “During a normal basketball game the athlete’s foot changes and the ability to quickly change your fit by loosening your shoe to increase blood flow and then tighten again for performance is a key element that we believe will improve the athlete’s experience.”

Similar to the HyperAdapt 1.0 self-lacing shoe, the first one the brand launched to market in 2016, this model was put through a series of tests including temperature and end of life tests, as well as focus groups featuring professional basketballers.

This is an important phase in the product development of a Nike product, says the brand, as founder Bill Bowerman, an athlete himself, believed fit was the foundation of any athletic performance. “The Nike Adapt BB helps the athlete find their custom fit and provides uncompromising lockdown, feel and traction throughout a game, but we knew it would only be validated once the game’s best players tried it out,” says Avar.

Nike’s future ambition is to bring the FitAdapt technology to other sports and lifestyle products in its portfolio, meeting fit demands that differ depending on context and environment.  

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