NEW YORK — Nike is taking the concept of connected fitness to the next level.
The sporting goods powerhouse on Tuesday unveiled Nike Adapt, a new platform centered around a basketball shoe that uses an app to create a custom fit through a power-lacing system. In its first iteration, the app will also allow the wearer to change the color of the shoe, check the remaining battery power and provide feedback to Nike. Ultimately, the company said, the technology can be applied to everything from performance and lifestyle footwear to apparel.
“This is the start of a journey,” said Eric Avar, Nike’s vice president and creative director of innovation. “We believe the technology will get smaller and more efficient and there’s a potential to put it into a number of different categories, including apparel.” Avar did not venture a guess on how long it would take to reach the apparel stage, saying only that Nike would work to identify which qualities “have the most value to consumers.” But someday, a conversation between the customer and sportswear through an app will undoubtedly become a reality.
The Nike Adapt shoe was offered for pre-sale on Tuesday and will launch officially on Feb.14 as a run-up to the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 17 at which point it will be available on the Nike e-commerce site. It will retail for $350 and come with a charging pad. The shoe will retain its charge under normal wear conditions for around 10 to 12 days, Avar said.
The Nike Adapt BB shoe was tested on Nike’s roster of professional athletes and will make its debut on the court Wednesday night on the feet of Boston Celtics small forward Jayson Tatum, who attended the unveiling at Nike’s New York headquarters on Tuesday morning.
“We picked basketball as the first sport for Nike Adapt intentionally because of the demands that athletes put on their shoes, Avar said. “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.”
The way it works is that when a player steps into the shoe, a custom motor and gear train senses the tension needed by the foot and adjusts accordingly. The tensile strength of the underfoot lacing is able to pull 32 pounds of force, Nike said, to secure the foot throughout a wide range of movement.
From there, the wearer can either adjust the shoe further by using buttons on the side, or wirelessly through the app. The technology took nearly three to four years to perfect and involved the company’s designers and engineers working together.
Michael Martin, vice president of digital products, said this is “just the beginning of connected products.” He said the goal for the future is to learn more about each wearer and their particular motion and use that information to aid performance and avoid injury.
Nike is not the first to embrace the connected fitness space — Under Armour introduced its UA HOVR shoes one year ago that connected to its MapMyRun app. But while Under Armour’s shoes provide information on pace, cadence, stride length and other metrics, Nike’s shoes themselves can actually be controlled through the app.