Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Everyone who wears sneakers knows that laces get untied no matter how tightly you tie them and that stopping what you’re doing to retie them is annoying. Well, there’s a solution. Nike recently unveiled the Nike Adapt BB, an auto-lacing, app-controlled sneaker that automatically adapts to the wearers’ feet.

How does it work?

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Once you put your foot inside the sneaker, sensors identify the level of tension needed and adjust accordingly. You can also tighten or loosen the laces manually or through an app. Of course, the app also has an abundance of little gimmicks made to excite, such as one giving wearers the ability to choose the color the sneakers emit when in tightening or loosening mode.

But the advent of the smart sneaker also means consumers have to readjust the way they view sneakers and how they care for them. Previously, owning a pair of sneakers required little to no maintenance. Smart sneakers, however, need to be charged. Companion apps require updating and batteries must be replaced when they run out. While this may sound like a lot of extra work, it also allows consumers to purchase a product that has the ability to evolve long after the purchase date and to respond to changing preferences and environments.

The Nike Adapt BB – the BB stands for “basketball” – debuted on January 16 when the Boston Celtic’s Jayson Tatum wore them in a game against the Toronto Raptors and Dallas Maverick’s Luka Doncic wore them in a game against the San Antonio Spurs. The Nike Adapt BB officially goes on sale on February 17 in Nike stores and online and is priced at $350.

Adidas, in contrast to Nike, has taken an entirely different approach to integrating technology into its sneakers. Adidas believes the real impact of technology in the sneaker industry won’t be on the product itself, but on everything surrounding it, including the manner in which a company engages with its customer base. In fact, Adidas’s CEO, Kasper Rorsted, has gone on record saying he doesn’t think data received from sensors in smart sneakers will make any discernible difference for athletes, at least not in the near future.

Therefore, Adidas has focused on testing limited edition 3D-printed sneakers and creating shoes and apparel out of recycled materials. The company is also attempting to connect with its consumers through storytelling rather than smartphones and has emphasized its relationships with celebrities, such as Kanye West, to help drive buzz around its shoes.

That’s not to say Adidas isn’t integrating technology inside its sneakers. A few months ago, Adidas introduced the 4D AlphaEdge sneaker with a 4D midsole. The 4D midsole uses a technological process called Digital Light Synthesis which is printed with oxygen and light and designed to deliver a natural energy return (i.e., instead of your feet just expending energy, you get energy back from the shoe).

The outsole of the 4D AlphaEdge comes with engineered traction zones and the top is a Primeknit upper woven using Forgefiber technology. Of course, most consumers aren’t aware of the technology integrated into the 4D AlphaEdge or how it works, but it provides wearers with maximum comfort, durability, and energy.

Which approach will consumers gravitate towards? Only time will tell.

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