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Nike goes ‘Back to the Future’ with $350 self-lacing ‘smart sneakers’

Nike’s new $350 Adapt BB “smart sneakers” conjure Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly in “Back to the Future II.’ But these shoes are made for basketball and are “laced” up with a smartphone app. (Nike)
Nike’s new $350 Adapt BB “smart sneakers” conjure Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly in “Back to the Future II.’ But these shoes are made for basketball and are “laced” up with a smartphone app. (Nike)

The new sneakers in town are “smart” and will remind “Back to the Future II” fans of the self-lacing shoes Marty McFly wore.

Only these come with an app - Marty’s didn’t - and the sleek kicks don’t look like clunky, chunky moon boots.

Nike made those shoes Michael J. Fox wore in the movie, then in 2016 introduced a real-life pair - the “power lacing,” $720 HyperAdapt 1.0, which are still around.

But now comes the new Nike Adapt, more affordable at $350 and with better technology, according to early and enthusiastic reviews.

“I don’t have a fairy godmother fashioning magic glass slippers that fit me perfectly, but Nike’s self-lacing Adapt BB shoes come pretty damn close,” writes Alfred Ng for CNET.

“The new $350 ‘smart sneakers,’ set for release Feb. 17, re-create the magical Back to the Future moment when Marty McFly tries on self-lacing Air Mags and exclaims, “Power laces. All right.’”

The “Back to the Future” flashbacks are flowing like a river.

“Ever since I saw Michael J. Fox using those self-lacing shoes as Marty McFly in Back to the Future back when I was a kid, I’ve wanted to see that kind of technology in action,” Chris Smith writes for BGR tech website.

“Needless to say, I’ve had to tie my shoelaces manually thousands of times until the technology became available. And when it did launch, it was pretty expensive.

“But Nike has a more affordable pair of self-lacing shoes out right now, which have nothing to do with those Back of the Future gimmicks. The new Nike Adapt BB have smart features built-in, which are meant to improve the performance of athletes when it matters most.”

The shoes were designed for basketball. Tonight, Boston Celtics small forward Jayson Tatum will be the first NBA player to wear them in a game, ESPN reports.

“We picked basketball as the first sport for Nike Adapt intentionally because of the demands that athletes put on their shoes,” Eric Avar, Nike VP Creative Director of Innovation, says on the Nike website.

“During a normal basketball game the athlete’s foot changes and the ability to quickly change your fit by loosening your shoe to increase blood flow and then tighten again for performance is a key element that we believe will improve the athlete’s experience.”

Here’s how the shoes work.

When you first step into them, “a custom motor and gear train senses the tension needed by the foot and adjusts accordingly to keep the foot snug,” the Nike website describes. “The tensile strength of the underfoot lacing is able to pull 32 pounds of force (roughly equal to that of a standard parachute cord) to secure the foot throughout a range of movement.”

By pushing a button on the side of the shoe, or by using the Nike Adapt app on a smartphone, you can adjust the fit - and change the color of the buttons on the shoe, Nerdist reports.

One more thing: Like your phone, the shoes have to be charged up.

“I can see the need to charge up sneakers becoming a hassle no one asked for, but Nike says a single charge of four hours could last you 10 to 14 day,” writes Ng, who watched several people dunk basketballs while wearing the shoes.

He, on the other hand, had no such luck. But it wasn’t Nike’s fault.

“After several failed attempts,” he writes, “I remembered that I’ve never been able to dunk a basketball.”

It's hard to get Michael Jordan's attention. But on Wednesday, a few high schoolers at Chandler High in Arizona did just that when they gifted their teacher a pair of Nike Jordan's on his last day.

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