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Nike unveils its second-generation self-lacing sneakers

Nike unveils its second-generation self-lacing sneakers, 30 years after the original debut in Back to the Future.

You know that feeling when your shoelaces start to get loose, and then they come untied? Well, future generations might never know what it feels like.

That’s because Nike’s newest kicks don’t have any laces, and they aren’t exactly slip ons, either.

At an event in New York City, the company unveiled the second generation self-lacing sneakers, called Nike Adapt BB, as in basketball.

The sneakers are proof that the future might not include messy laces.

“I think when they envisioned this for the movie Back to the Future, no one really knew how to make it,” explained Nike engineer Jordan Rice.

The Nike Adapt BB are packed with technology, including sensors, Bluetooth, NFC and a “flex” mechanism that tightens and loosens the laces.

Nike BB Adapt Flex Mechanism

Nike BB Adapt Flex Mechanism

This happens automatically via the push of a button on the side of the sneaker or using a companion app installed on your smartphone. Once you get your desired levels of fit, you can easily save them via presets inside the app. A bit looser for everyday walking around, tighter for game time.

You can even change the color of the light up buttons on the side of the shoe using the app – there are over a dozen color to choose from, and potentially more in the future with software updates.

Tech Reporter Rich DeMuro tries on Nike BB Adapt

That’s right – the Nike Adapt BB is the first sneaker that will get firmware updates.

“I think that’s the brilliance behind this kind of adaptive nature. You can even adapt the color you want, and have fun!,” said Ross Klein, a Nike designer who worked on the sneakers.

But make no mistake, these sneakers are professional grade, meant primarily for performance on the court.

In a first, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum will wear the sneakers in Wednesday night’s NBA game against the Raptors.

So, what are they like for the mere mortal, and non-athlete like myself? Nike brought me to their New York City headquarters to find out.

I tried on the brand new sneakers, which are technically the successor to 2016’s Nike Hyperadapt sneakers, which I also covered, but didn’t get to try on because the test pair didn’t come in my size.

Nike Hyperadapt 2016

The sneakers slipped on, then I used the app to adjust the Left and Right sneakers to my desired tightness.

Think of the laces as sort of cinching around your foot. They make a very audible sound – Nike engineers told me they actually tuned the sound to a certain frequency so it’s recognizable every time.

Once they’re adjusted, the sneakers feel as if they blend in with your foot – as if they’re one solid thing. Unlike typical sneakers where you feel your foot moving around in them after a while, these don’t come loose after running around in them for a bit. It’s a very reassuring feeling, and you can’t get the same level of fit from laces alone.

“I think you’re going to see us take this to other categories of sports and athletes over time,” said Rice.

The Nike Adapt BB go on sale mid-February for $350, which is half the price of Nike’s last model of self-lacing sneakers.

The company says they tested them for durability – and even water resistance for the electronics inside – just be prepared to charge one more thing. The sneakers sit on a wireless charging pad and last up to 14 days between charges.

Rich DeMuro is the Tech Reporter at KTLA TV Channel 5 in Los Angeles and author of the bestselling iPhone guide 101 Handy Tech Tips for the iPhone.

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