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Nike’s New Adapt BB Redefines the Future for Smart Shoes

The sneaker of the future may have finally landed.

More than self-lacing, Nike’s new Adapt BB smart shoe’s advanced power-lacing system promises to create “a truly custom fit.”

Nike has doubled down on its app ecosystem and paired the Adapt BB with an app that can adjust the shoe’s fit without the wearer doing much at all. Once a wearer steps into the shoe, a custom motor and gear train determines the tension the foot needs and adjusts accordingly for a “snug” fit.

“The tensile strength of the underfoot lacing is able to pull 32 pounds of force (roughly equal to that of a standard parachute chord) to secure the foot throughout a range of movement,” Nike said.

Nike says it assessed the viability of this mechanism through a rigorous series of testing it says makes the Adapt BB the organization’s “most tested shoe.” Testing included 40,000 button presses, 2,900 tightening cycles and 30,000 impact pulses.

The aim is to improve athlete performance—beginning with basketball players.

“We picked basketball as the first sport for Nike Adapt intentionally because of the demands that athletes put on their shoes,” Eric Avar, Nike’s VP creative director of innovation, said. “During a normal basketball game the athlete’s foot changes and the ability to quickly change your fit by loosening your shoe to increase blood flow and then tighten again for performance is a key element that we believe will improve the athlete’s experience.”

By using the Nike Adapt app on a smartphone, wearers can select different fit settings that correspond to different moments in a game, like loosening the shoe during a timeout and tightening it again before they head back on the court. The app can also monitor the Adapt BB’s battery levels (which can be charged via a wireless platform) and change the colors of the lights on the midsole. Nike says it plans to provide support for the app and the shoes in the form of firmware updates it will send to the shoe via the app.

The Adapt BB’s “power lacing” technology, which has garnered a great deal of attention since the announcement, is actually carried over from Nike’s Hyperadapt 1.0, which was made available for purchase in 2016 for more than $700. One of the biggest differences between the most recent release and the Hyperadapt 1.o, according to Nike, is a smaller and more efficient lacing mechanism and, obviously, a more user-friendly price, at $350.

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And in keeping with the times, if you’re going to make a basketball shoe, tradition dictates you need an endorsement from an actual player to get it off the ground—although that notion is being challenged in the current footwear climate.

For the Adapt BB’s release, Nike chose the Boston Celtic’s 20-year-old small forward, Jayson Tatum, as its NBA liaison.

“Being one of the first athletes to wear the shoe and being picked as a representative of the future of Nike basketball means a lot,” Tatum said in a statement released by Nike Tuesday. “That the app allows the ability to put the shoe on and touch the button, change the colors, see the percentage on the battery…it’s just cool.”