Remember in Back To The Future II when Marty McFly slipped on his Nike Air Kicks from 2015 and exclaimed: “Power laces, alright!”? Well, looks like your very own pair of auto-lacing kicks isn’t too far off. In fact, you can even make your own—that is, assuming you’ve got the programming chops to program an Arduino. San Francisco-based inventor Blake Bevin created the sneaker prototype last summer to enter an Instructables contest. She posted a video of her in the bulky, garishly colored shoes to YouTube and within days the project went viral. She then got down to business and developed a sleeker version—Power Laces 2.0—that ditched the bulky electronic box on the back and embedded all that hardware and wiring inside the soles of the shoes.
Unfortunately, as she was developing the second prototype, news broke that Nike had already applied for an auto-lacing shoe patent in 2009. But, Bevin’s working hard to beat Nike to the punch, and funded the production of her shoe (which uses a completely different mechanism than Nike’s) on Kickstarter. You can follow the progress of her shoe on her website.
According to the Instructables How-To, Bevin says the logistics behind making these power lacing shows yourself are pretty simple (though we’d recommend some minor electronics experience). Basically, as you step into the shoe, a force sensor reads the pressure of your feet as they hit the soles, triggering two servo motors attached to the laces, that tighten when activated. A touch switch then reverses the process.
Some materials you’ll need (besides some snazzy hightops) include an Arduino, a motor shield, two servo motors, and a 9 volt case with built in battery clip and switch. If you undergo the project yourself, the most difficult part will be building the motor shield that enables the Arduino to control the servo motors used to tighten the laces. Otherwise, once everything is mounted and the motor shield libraries have been uploaded to the Arduino via USB cable, your shoe will be programed and ready to go.
Not only do these shoes look really impressive (even with the bulky hardware), but implementing this technology could save kindergartners of the future the torment of having to learn to tie their shoes. Not to mention, they’ll be incredibly useful for those lacking thumbs.
Visit the Instructables How-To for further instruction, more detailed photographs, and tips on where to buy materials.