Nike’s been getting all the glory for its self-lacing sneakers – and understandably so. You can’t really beat the built-in promotion of Back to the Future pre-product placement and world class shoe model that is Michael J. Fox.
But while the MAG only just launched and the HyperAdapt system is still in the works, Puma’s been doing its thing relatively under the radar for a while now. Well, as under the radar as one can get with a pair of neon running shoes that have made it into the hands of Usain Bolt, among other.
Like the MAG, Puma’s Autodisc shoes are extremely limited edition – for now, at least – with only 50 pairs out in the world at the moment, a number of which have landed, predictably, in the hand of high-profile athletes like Bolt. Though Engadget did manage to get its hands and feet on a pair, courtesy of Hong Kong IOT accelerator Brinc.
Some interesting things to note here. For starters, the mesh shoes look to be a 2016 update of its own Disc lacing system, automating the process with the press of a button on the shoe – or via the companion app, which connects via Bluetooth, saving tightness presets and monitoring battery level. Because this is 2016, and our shoes need recharging, but thankfully we have smartphones to tell us when they get low.
Also worth mentioning here is the fact that Puma has moved the motor system into the shoe’s tongue, rather than the sole (as with Nike’s system), which makes the bottom more flexible when running – the target case use for the sneakers. Whether the system will hold up against the rigors of the track has yet to be seen, but there’s probably no one in the world more equipped to put it through its paces than Usain Bolt.
As for when the rest of us will be able to get our hands on the shoes, Puma appears to be gauging customer interest at the moment, much the same as Nike. But the technology isn’t likely to come cheap.