Help Please: Power Laces Project For the Back to the Future 2015 Sneakers

Illustration for article titled Help Please: Power Laces Project For the Back to the Future 2015 Sneakers

The Nike Hyperdunks 2015 edition are cool reminders of the love we all have for Back to the Future. But I think you'll agree when I say they'd be like 100x cooler with power laces. So I've been chatting up Phil Torrone, Nick Bilton, and a few others nerds to get some ideas on how to do it. We're researching how to make them, and if you've got advice or think you can pull it off, let me know! If we can make it happen, I think it should be pretty easy to donate them to a museum for display. Here are some of the design challenges:


What do we want? We want to build something like this:

• The motion in the video clip above suggests that pneumatics is the way to go. The tension can be regulated by an adjustable valve. The canister need not be mounted on the shoe, since we can run hosing down from a leg mount. A motor wouldn't have enough torque to lace a shoe without much gearing, and even then, it would be very slow. And the motor and gearbox would have to be mounted on the shoe somewhere. Bulky.

• I'm playing around with the idea of needing one lace or many individual laces. One lace will require a lot of tension and the upper section might cinch up. Either way, the leather holes in the shoe need to be punched out and opened up with plastic or brass holes to reduce friction.

Anyone else have any other thoughts?


Dave on bass

I would suggest, if low-friction grommets don't provide quite enough "slip", that you could use surface-mounted ringd with rollers (see larger examples in utility straps and such, where the D-ring has a sleeve around the flat side of the D, that serves as a roller).

As for the pulling - what if you didn't need a motor at all? This might eliminate the need for slippery lace holes as well... How about:

- each strip of lace visible across the tongue is its own lace, of firm elastic (elastic so that there isn't too much pressure on the foot, firm so it still holds the foot.)

- at either end of each lace strip, a mechanism that opens and closes, not unlike a come-along for a cable or strap. When both ends are open, lace is loose, when closed the lace is snug. These would be sprung with tension and a catch when open and rest when closed.

- for lack of a better word, a pressure trigger to release the catches, inside the insole. Foot goes in, all 3 or 4 clasps on either side slam shut simultaneously. To remove shoe, just lift the clasps open until they catch.

Hope that was clear enough. Might be more practical than electric drive or something run up your pants. Then again, this is Giz, I should be ashamed of my lack of electricity! I know, they can also have an ipod dock.