Business Technology

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Nike designer says Back to the Future style power laces will arrive in 2015

The iconic shoes first appeared in Back to the Future and later went on sale for charity, but Nike has yet to confirm whether real power laces will be arriving

The Nike Mags (pictured) were created for a charity auction, but lacked the all-important self-fastening power laces
The Nike Mags (pictured) were created for a charity auction, but lacked the all-important self-fastening power laces

James Vincent

You might think that out of all the technological wonders featured in the Back to the Future franchise it would be the functional time machine that caused the most envy, but no, it seems that what the internet wants the most from the world of tomorrow is a pair of self-lacing trainers.

At least, this certainly seems to be the case judging by the reaction to an off-the-cuff comment made by Nike designer Tinker Hatfield. As reported by specialist site Sole Collector, Hatfield was quizzed on the topic during a press conference in New Orleans:

"Are we gonna see power laces in 2015? To that, I say YES!" said Hatfield, sparking a flurry of online speculation, but - as of the time of writing - no confirmation from Nike.

Despite this, it's not impossible that Nike will make power laces happen next year. For a start, the timing would fit (the high-tops or Nike Mags first appeared in Back to the Future II the year 2015) and Nike even patented its own “automatic lacing system” back in 2010.

The sportswear company actually manufactured the trainers for a charity auction back in 2011. Although they lacked the crucial power laces 1,500 pairs of the trainer were auctioned with the proceeds ($6 million, an average price of $4,000 per pair) going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Enthusiastic fans have even tried to recreate the technology, with San Francisco-based tinkerer Blake Bevin successfully funding a Kickstarter project for the shoes back in in 2010 after posting her designs on tech-orientated DIY site Instructables.

Bevin’s designs use an Arduino microcontroller and a pressure sensor in the sole to detect when the trainer is being worn before tightening the laces with a pair of servo motors. Although it’s been more than three years since Bevin’s designs were first uploaded online, a recent post from her Twitter confirms that her company is “looking to release this year”.

One way or another then it seems that power laces are coming and, as Bevin's original Kickstarter campaign originally noted, they wouldn't just be a vanity gadget - self-lacing shoes could also help individuals with motor disabilities. Compared to a hover board (Back to the Future's other iconic invention) that's both more useful and more likely to appear.

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