Technology and footwear are advancing at a crazy rate. It’s almost as if with every new style of footwear that is released, new technology is introduced. So what are the 5 most important sneaker technologies shaping the future of footwear right now? You might have heard of some but you might be surprised at the companies that are actually leading the charge into the next era. More exciting than each individual new technology is the idea that these things will eventually work together. So let’s get into the tech that’s shaping the future of sneakers as we speak.
Graphene made it’s way into a jacket by Vollebak in the spring of 2018 and has been a hot topic amongst brands looking to push the envelope. According to Wikipedia…
Potential applications of graphene. Potential graphene applications include lightweight, thin, flexible, yet incredibly lightweight to, electric/photonics circuits, solar cells, and various medical, chemical and industrial processes enhanced or enabled by the use of new graphene materials.
We’re now seeing graphene make its way into running shoes and hiking boots thanks to inov-8. While the current uses in footwear are heavily selling the durability of the material, as the other technologies we touch on in this story further develop, the potential use of graphene for its conductive properties will undoubtedly become more important. That’s not to diminish the strength, according to inov-8, graphene is 200-times stronger than steel. But not everyone is a believer.
Obviously, if you are reading this site, you are probably familiar with the Nike MAG from the 1989 film Back to the Future II featuring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. The movie didn’t actually have self-lacing sneakers back then, it was actually some really creative camera trickery. (Here are some other facts about the Nike MAG) Fast forward to the present day, Nike is now on their second release of self-lacing sneakers and PUMA is on the verge of releasing their own self-lacing sneaker. While the prices might keep everyday consumers from getting into a pair anytime soon, considering the PUMA FI is set to be $330 and the Nike Adapt BB is $350.
The price point is much closer to what sneakerheads are used to paying, even for shoes without cutting-edge technology. Although, most of us will have the same “that’s too much” reaction, considering the $720 price of the Nike HyperAdapt that released in December of 2016, the technology is steadily moving towards a retail price that will make it “mainstream” in no time.
Digitally Controlled Insoles
Zhor-Tech is the self-proclaimed “pioneer and world leader in smart shoe technology” and judging by some of the technology they’ve introduced, it’s hard to argue that statement. The company’s smart insoles are the first connected insoles dedicated to running that allow you to measure, analyze and improve your performance. Insoles that analyze your stride in 3D, measure pronation/supination, impact force, and propulsion level and then help you optimize energy expenditure and boost performance is simply mind-blowing. Considering Zhor-Tech is preparing to launch their second version, it’s clear they are ahead of the pack when it comes to this technology. But they’ve got even more you should know about…
Zhor-Tech takes it one step further with their M-Cube technology. M-Cube is a technology weighing only 7 grams that can be embedded in any shoe or insole and capable of capturing twelve parameters related to walking profile, including cadence, speed, impact force, stance, and pronation/supination. As of now, this technology connects to an app that can be accessed by your doctor and family to keep a closer eye on health. While the technology might not feel like something targeted to sneakerheads, this is the stepping stone for even deeper analytics and the possibilities are truly endless. For example, why not use something like this to keep track of how much you’ve actually worn a pair of your favorite kicks?
The Future of Footwear Apps
The most forward-thinking use of a sneaker app at this very moment is primarily self-lacing shoes (unless you consider Taking Ls from SNKRS a technological accomplishment). But if you look at the four technologies mentioned previously, the combination of those things and the customization and tracking abilities that an app can potentially offer, is WILD. From health and fitness to tracking authentic sneakers direct from the brand through RFID, combining the worlds of fitness with the world of sneakerheads, sneaker apps in the near future will inevitably combine the 5 most important sneaker technologies and provide the solutions to problems we haven’t even though of yet.
For more on the Sneaker Technologies from HyperAdapt designer, Tiffany Beers, YouTube star Jacques Slade, and Sneaker History founder Nick Engvall check out the Outside The Box podcast.
Nick Engvall is a sneaker enthusiast with over 15 years of experience in the footwear business. He has written for publications such as Complex, Sole Collector, and Sneaker News, helped companies like Eastbay, Finish Line, Foot Locker, StockX, and Stadium Goods better connect with their consumers, has an addiction to burritos and Sour Patch Kids, and owns way too many shoes for his own good.