The evolution of music, art, design, fashion, and culture as a whole has created the perfect storm for the rise of sneaker culture. You have probably noticed that sneaker “hype” is at an all-time high, seeing individuals (hypebeast) do, or spend just about anything for a highly coveted pair of sneakers.
As technology and design become one unified medium companies are looking for ways to bring the sneaker industry into the 21st century.
Sneaker + Technology
Footwear and technology are colliding synthesizing new products that move beyond novelty, creating sneakers that enhance your performance. What will the world of sneaker tech look like, you ask?
The coming industry of sneaker tech will include a saturated market of shoes with minds of their own, that come to life and adjust to an athlete's needs as they move, that are created with sustainable materials, and are 3D printed in a few hours from the convenience of your home for the ultimate bespoke fit.
Now, the sneaker tech world is still very much in its infancy, but across the globe, companies are releasing sneakers that give the world a small glimmer of what to expect in the very near sneaker tech future.
Whether you are a hypebeast or someone who appreciates cool tech, here are some of the most technologically advanced sneakers available on the market today.
Nike HyperAdapt 1.0
Think of this sneaker as the grandson to the highly coveted Back to the Future Sneaker, the Nike MAGs, which will be discussed further down the list. These simply designed sneakers have the ability to lace themselves, contorting to a wearer's precise comfort needs. Created by the famed Tinker Hatfield, the Nike HyperAdapt self-lacing technology took over 20+years to perfect.
The battery-powered shoe includes an LED midsole that lights up as you put on the shoe, indicator lights as well as the classic Nike logo. Nike’s E.A.R.L, or Electric Adaptable Reaction Lacing, is what makes the self-lacing shoes possible. The shoe electronically adjusts to the pressure generated by your feet and contours to your foot.
The eventual goal of Hatfield and Nike is to have a shoe that is constantly sensing your movement throughout and most importantly while you are playing sports, adjusting to every step you take for maximum performance.
Adidas Futurecraft 4D
The Futurecraft 4D embodies how efficient 3D printing cand not only help with manufacturing of a footwear but how it can change it for the better.
Utilizing the innovative process of Digital Light Synthesis technology, created by tech company Carbon, Adidas created sneakers that are aesthetically appealing and are built for performance.
This cost-effective 3D printing method of Digital Light Synthesis creates soles for the Adidas' shoes that are based on almost 20 years of athlete data allowing the shoe to be “precisely tuned for controlled energy return, long-lasting cushioning…”
Under Armour ArchiTech
One of the first companies to utilize 3D printed technology, Under Armour has been working hard to perfect how sneakers can benefit from this technology. The Under Armour ArchiTecht is created with a compression and mesh lacing system. The dynamic lattice network support maximizes an athlete's performance, giving them the support and the stability to take on anything thrown at them.
The ShiftWear sneaker is one of the more unique sneakers on the list. The ShiftWear is a sneaker that can display almost any custom design you can think of on its surface.
Built with a flexible HD color display on the rear of the outer panel of the sneaker, the sneaker connects wirelessly with your smartphone. Utilizing your device you can customize the appearance of your shoes. immediately, with any image or design, you like. The ShiftWear sneakers can even be charged wirelessly.
Adidas Speedfactory AM4LDN
Though some of the technology involved in the AM4LDN is not completely new the means of creating the shoes is a breakthrough for the industry. The Adidas AM4LDN showcases how the company will be able to create sneakers almost instantly to fit the specific needs of athletes; the ultimate custom fit.
The DigitSole sneaker is probably the more futuristic looking and functioning sneaker on the list. These computers for your feet have a host of features that have been tailored to the enthusiast, sneaker collectors, health enthusiasts, and athlete.
Originally, a Kickstarter campaign, the DigitSole can track your movements, impact force, steps, calories, monitor your posture, and even measure your fatigue. The waterproof sneakers connect to your phone, giving you real-time feedback on your walking and performance patterns, and is even smart enough to give you recommendations. DigitSole will even heat your feet if you ever feel cold.
The DigitSole highlights where sneaker tech will be headed in the next couple of years.
Ok, so this may not be the newest sneaker on the list but the technology originally showcased on the Nike MAG helped inspire and paint the picture of what the future of sneaker technology may look like almost 30 years ago, directly inspiring the Nike Hyper Adapts.
Originally appearing as Marty Mcfly's signature shoe in the movie Back to the Future Part II in 1989, the Air Mag became a staple in culture and remains to this day, one of the most coveted pairs of footwear in history.
Designed by Tinker Hatfield, the sneaker was just a prop created for a movie to illustrate how technology will reshape clothing. Yet, in 2011 Nike released working Air Mags to the public.
The self-lacing Nike Air Mags feature an early iteration of how Nike’s E.A.R.L as well as some other small novelty features.
Though the sneaker might not be as advanced as other shoes on the list, it is safe to assume, the Nike MAG inspired and will continue to inspire those looking to create sneaker technology. If you are looking to get a pair, be expected to spend anywhere from $10,000 to $75,000.
The Puma Fi
Puma has taken a cue from Nike in 2019, introducing their very own self-lacing, space-age sneakers. Dubbed the Puma Fi, short for "Fit Intelligence", the shoe can contort to a wearers foot with a simple swipe of a module on the shoe's tongue.
With the custom lacing enclosed within the silver tongue piece, users can also control the shoe through an app via an iPhone or even your Apple watch.
Again, the idea is to create a shoe that adapts to one's athletic performance and comfort throughout the day. The technology in the Puma Fi is said to have the ability to identify the shape of the wearer’s foot, for maximum support.
If you are a hypebeast and cannot wait to try out the shoes in 2020, you can sign up to the Fi Beta Test program through PUMATRAC, PUMA's training app. Expect the shoes to retail around $330.
Nike Adapt BB
Think of the Nike Adapt BB as the child of the Nike Mags and the Nike Hyper Adapts 1.0. Designed specifically for basketball players, these sneakers are far easier to get ahold of than its parents.
Combining a bit of both sneakers, the Nike Adapt BB allows users to adjust the fit of their shoe on the market and even customize the colors of the shoe all from your smartphone.
Basketball players are known to have some of the worst feet in the world of athletics because of wear and tear as well as overly tight sneakers. Nike's FitAdapt system found in the Adapt BB will help combat this issue, for the ultimate real-time tailored fit. After just one charge, the Adapt BB can last up to 10-14 days.
Nike hopes to introduce the technology across other sports for various athletes in the near future. They are retailing at $350.
Are there any tech sneakers you would like to wear?