Nike has launched a pair of laceless basketball sneakers that tighten at the touch of a button or swipe of a smartphone. Getting the right fit from a performance shoe is both personal and complicated. Consider basketball: Over the course of a basketball game, the foot can expand almost a half-size during play. A level of fit that feels comfortable at one point might feel constrictive just 24 minutes later. Because the needs of the foot change at any given time based on the sport, its duration and on specific movements, like a slashing cut to the basket, “perfect fit” is a floating target.
The effort to refine fit has yielded a number of innovative platforms through Nike’s history – Huarache, Flywire and Flyknit, to name a few. Perhaps none was more critical to advancing custom fit than the 2016 introduction of the Nike HyperAdapt 1.0, the first Nike multipurpose performance shoe to feature power lacing. Now, Nike has found its most advanced fit solution to date: Nike Adapt, a platform that creates a truly custom fit by combining an advanced power-lacing system, an app and continually updated firmware, featured in the new Nike Adapt BB basketball shoe.
“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 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.”
When a player steps into the Nike Adapt BB, a custom motor and gear train senses the tension needed by the foot and adjusts accordingly to keep the foot snug. The tensile strength of the underfoot lacing is able to pull 32 pounds of force (roughly equal to that of a standard parachute cord) to secure the foot throughout a range of movement.
That’s where the brain, or FitAdapt tech, kicks in. By manual touch or by using the Nike Adapt app on a smartphone, players can input different fit settings depending on different moments of a game. For example, during a timeout, a player can loosen the shoe before tightening it up as they re-enter the game. In a forthcoming feature, they can even prescribe a different tightness setting for warm-ups. Plus, players can opt into firmware updates for the FitAdapt technology as they become available, sharpening the precision of fit for players and providing new digital services over time.