Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Oh, patents! Nike automated lacing system

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Hooray for Spring 2015!! And what better kick off than the prospect of never having to tie your shoelaces again!

 Indeed, shoe laces begone! Welcome automated lacing!

Nike has just patented an automated lacing system for their Back to the Future Air Mags! These shoes are a replica of the sneakers worn by Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, in the movie Back to the Future II. Nike marketed Back to the future Air Mags in 2011 with all proceeds of the sale benefiting the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, but the 2011 Back to the future Air Mags did not have automated shoe lacing like the ones in the movie!

The automated lacing feature is now patented and Nike Back to the future Air Mags with automated lacing are slated for rollout in 2015! The sneakers contain a motor inserted inside a cavity of the heel portion of the sole.  The motor with a driveshaft and yoke is connected to straps on the upper portion of the sneakers in such a manner that when the motor is activated, the straps tighten to close, or loosen to open.  

The sneakers also include an automated ankle cinching system that adjusts to the user’s ankle. The mechanism for the ankle cinching strap is a coil spring that winds around a shaft located in a housing at the back of the ankle. Finally the sneakers also contain user-activated means of controlling the lacing and ankle cinching systems in the form of a button or switch. And the system may also include a user-activated (weight) sensor for activation of the laces  

Below you will find the abstract for Nike patent US 8769844, titled Automated Shoe Lacing System, awarded on July 8, 2014. You will also find a patent figure drawing, an image of the product for marketing (above), and a short clip of Marty McFly (aka Michael J. Fox) in Back to the Future II putting on Air Mags with automated (power) lacing! 

 Abstract - US 8769844  

An article of footwear with an automatic lacing system is disclosed. The automatic lacing system provides a set of straps that can be automatically opened and closed to switch between a loosened and tightened position of the upper. The article further includes an automatic ankle cinching system that is configured to automatically adjust an ankle portion of the upper.

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