Back To The Future40.7128° N, 74.0060° W
"A Conversation With Nike's Senior Innovator, Tiffany Beers, On The Nike Mag & HyperAdapt 1.0"
It was a surreal moment to put on the Nike Mag last week in New York City. As kids growing up, we watched Marty McFly put on the self-lacing shoes and wondered; will we ever get to see this in our lifetime? While the exact date we put them on was not exactly October 21, 2015, but we were still awestruck that Nike had invited us to try on the iconic shoes. What’s more is that they were self-lacing just like the in the movie, Back To The Future II. We also had the opportunity to sit down with one of Nike’s Senior Innovators, Tiffany Beers, who played a large role in developing the technology that went into Hyperadapt 1.0 sneaker and the iconic Nike Mag. We asked her about Marty McFly’s shoes but most importantly, what the self-lacing technology means for the future of footwear.
Please explain to us how you guys were able maintain the authenticity of the Nike Mag?
Everything that you see in terms of the overall construction is similar to the 2011 release. With the obvious exception being the Electro Adaptive Reactive Lacing technology, which is integrated into the shoe. It was also important to us that we kept the aesthetic true to the movie.
With that being said, back in 2011, there was no self-lacing technology, so what would you say was the biggest challenge when it came time to install it?
We literally had to keep everything as is for the Nike Mag but as far as materials went; we had to make sure they could have enough durability to withstand the constant pull and push of the adaptive lacing.
Could you tell me how the adaptive lacing affected Nike’s newest tech? For example, the Flywire upper that is on the upcoming HyperAdapt 1.0 sneaker?
We absolutely had to modify how the Flywire was attached, right down to how the plate was fitted along the sneaker. In the end, it was all a fine balance of engineering.
Do you see the Hyperadapt ever expanding to smartphone connectivity? Like we won’t ever have to reach down to unlace them.
At some point in time, yes. We first want to learn when people adjust them, how they adjust them before we jump into anything else. We’re here to listen to the wearer’s feedback.
What’s the battery life like on the HyperAdapt sneaker?
You will get about 8 hours of battery life, a little less if you leave the lights on. There’s also a 10-second delay, so once you put your foot into the sneaker, it will tighten up after that time.
Did you plan for any fail-safes? Say the adaptive-lacing mechanism gives out, what do we do? And do you see the mechanism giving out first or the materials?
I see the materials giving out first but we’ve prepared a manual that will rollout at the same time as the HyperAdapt sneakers. So should any issues come up, people will know what they need to do to fix it.
Let’s go back to the HyperAdapt technology itself. What does it mean for the future of footwear to you?
Our bodies are so dynamic but footwear has never been, up until now. The advantages it presents to athletes, for example a marathon runner who is running up a hill, their HyperAdapt will be able to adjust according to the environment. As for the everyday person, this will help people with health issues, pregnant women, and more. The implications are endless.
Lastly, how does it feel to be a part of this project?
Honestly, I’m still pinching myself and sometimes, I have these moments were I say “I can’t believe Tinker picked me to work with him on this.” Being a part of development of the Nike Mag is very special because of what it represents to pop culture and for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. As for the HyperAdapt, I’m excited to continue developing the technology, seeing it blossom and change lives.
To celebrate the Nike Mag, the sportswear brand has built a space to celebrate the impending release. The only way to get your hands on a pair is via a raffle and only 89 pairs will be available to the general public. Furthermore, 100% of the proceeds will be put towards the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s disease. Today is the last day to enter!
Join the raffle here.
Afterwards, one pair of the Nike Mag will also be auctioned live in each of the following three places: Hong Kong on October 11, 2016; London on October 14; and in New York on November 12 at The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s benefit gala, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson’s.” One pair will also be available in a public draw; entry will be exclusively at Nike Town London from October 15 through October 16.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Words & Photography: Jon Carlo Tapia