Nike’s New Self-Lacing Shoe Has a Service Tether

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It appears some people are pretty excited about Nike’s new Adapt BB self-tying basketball shoes. Just slip them on and tighten them up through an app on your phone (don’t worry, you can also use the buttons on the sides of the shoes). People who have tried them say they are very comfortable and that the self-lacing mechanism is quite fast.

The self-lacing part is cool and took a lot of engineering work, but that’s not the most interesting thing about these shoes. What is, is their connection to the Internet of Things — and the fact that these shoes are part-product and part-service, thanks to their “service tether.”

Connect with a Service Tether

A service tether is an embedded product intelligence connected to the cloud so that a product can communicate with the company behind the product. Service tethers turn products into services.

Service tethers also do a bunch of interesting things. They allow us to tweak and customize our products through mobile and other digital interfaces. They allow companies to update the product with firmware updates over time. Service tethers also generate a constant stream of data from our usage of their products.

What’s more, you don’t just connect with footwear through Nike Adapt. You connect with Nike. 

The Promise of Intelligent Product

That data can be used by us to track our performance while using the product. In this sense, it’s no different from using a Fitbit watch to track our health data. Eventually, the Nike Adapt platform will help us track steps, distance, and speed with more accuracy than the Fitbit. It may even help us to diagnose problems with the way we’re moving around, whether that’s around the track or on the court.

We won’t be the only ones looking at that data, of course. It seems inevitable that Nike will gain quite a bit from the massive flow of anonymized data coming from our shoes — like little digital footprints trailed behind us in a virtual landscape.

Nike may even figure out business models for working with that data in ways that aren’t so anonymous. They might figure out ways to provide coaching to fix our stride or help us improve our overall health based on our usage data. And, of course, that data will also help the company to come up with an even better fit for your next pair of service-tethered shoes.

4 comments

  1. These shoes were first in “Back to the Future 2” in 1989! Thirty years ago they seemed so far-fetched, and now we can all have them!

  2. All great except when you do what the new fit bit is doing by joining it with employers

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