I was pretty much following the news closely ever since Nike announced they were taking the 'Back To The Future II' shoes and launching a limited edition self-lacing Nike Mags with actor Michael J. Fox, which will benefit his foundation and research to Parkinson's disease (Michael was also diagnosed with it). That was in 2015, and the video of Michael trying on the shoes and looking delighted was bliss. Forward to today, the shoes have since gone into mass production, and Nike has now made it available in Singapore with three colors: olive flak/black-orange peel-sequoia, black/white and white/pure platinum.
At first impression, it looks like your everyday lifestyle shoes, albeit with a thicker, cushion-y heel support. It also felt light, like your performance training shoes. The futuristic details were subtle, until you put them on.
Slipping in a pair of the shoes at Dover Street Market, where the range will only be made available exclusively, it's come to my realization that this is not a gimmick. I was slightly nervous, with strange thoughts running in my head - "What if the laces stop working, and it grips my feet too tightly? Would I have to cut through them then?"
Nike's staff member assured me the shoes were powered up, and can last to about 2 weeks after a full recharge (it takes two to three hours of recharge using a power dock). As I wiggle into the shoes (I'm a size 7), the left shoe automatically ties itself, much to my surprise. Turns out, the shoe detects the weight of the ball of your feet once you rest it down, thus the automatic motion. A whirring sound accompanies the motion, and you could see the laces tightening its grip around my feet. And lights start to flash. It's definitely both eye and sound-catching, almost similar to hearing your favorite Mustang ride down the freeway. And that was Nike's intention, to makes its presence felt.
A blue light indicates full battery power; yellow means it's dwindling down and blinking red shows a charge is needed. To reset the shoes, one just press both buttons by the side of the shoes, and a kaleidoscope of rainbow colors power through - good if you want to re-adjust the grip of the laces as at the first wear, the shoes 'remember' the first grip.
The shoes are designed with performance training in mind - you can play sports, run, go to the gym in it, but it's not waterproof. So no chugging your shoes to an outdoor festival or run in the mud.Taking the shoes off was a bit of a struggle - I was still getting used to locating the buttons and holding for a few seconds to untie myself out.
Overall, the experience was positive - I did not get electrocuted. To some who hate tying shoe laces and jumping fast on both feet to get going, these shoes would save you time. This is a piece of adaptive technology which is both experiential and a peek into the future where we will be seeing driverless cars on the road. While the hefty price tag may be a deterrent to some, this is one collector's items for the early adopters.
The price? S$999.
Note: This article first appeared on Her World on Apr 12, 2018.