"Nike + SpaceX’s Upcoming Smart Space Shoe " in Humanizing Tech
I. The News
Nike just announced, through a Wired story, an elite performance track shoe custom fitted to a female sprinter for the upcoming Rio summer olympics. It provided the perfect balance between a stiff sole and a light weight in order to shave time off a 100 meter dash. Below are some images.
II. The Insight
Idon’t believe that’s the real story, however. The nugget in here is about where they’re headed. It’s about a machine learning algorithm designing the perfect shoe, fitted just right for you, that can take you to planets beyond our own. Whether you have a high arch or pronated flat feet, you only need a few things in order to create a shoe that’s perfect for how your foot is built and how it works. Here, or on Mars.
- The first step is getting an accurate 3-dimensional image of your foot.
- The second is a new type of space age material that can be even lighter, last longer, and conduct electricity for creating true smart shoe.
- Finally, a new manufacturing process to produce this futuristic space shoe.
III. Potential Product
The first thing Nike needs to do is create another iPhone app that works with the upcoming Apple iPhone with a 360 degree camera to take a 3D rendering of your foot. You might also need to record video of yourself walking so the app can analyze the data for not just how the foot looks, but also how it works. Once you have an exact 3D model of the shape and how it changes as it moves, you can then manufacture the perfectly fitting shoe for that person.
The next challenge is using the latest deep learning methods to help science the heck out of a new space age material we can manufacture the shoe from. Scientists are already discovering novel materials based on inputs for weight-to-strength ratios that output crystalline structures never before concepted by man. A machine has “created” these new materials.
A Nike Interstellar Shoe made of a new space age material would not only be strong enough to protect your feet in earth’s atmosphere, but also reconfigure itself based on the environmental conditions it finds itself in. Hot? Change it to be more porous. Biological agents in the water you’re treading through? Make it air tight.
This could be enabled by including tiny electrical sensors throughout the shoe, using the material itself as the electrical wiring to connect it all. A smart space shoe should be just as performant in zero Gs as it is in the one G we feel here on Earth.
Nike could use this new materials science to discover a Graphene-like material, which already has some pretty impressive properties. It’s 100x stronger than steel but more importantly for our purposes, conducts electricity. That’s perfect for embedded sensors embedded that can use its own material to transfer data as an electrical signal or potentially change its chemical makeup in real-time, much like a biological organism’s connectome.
If you think Nike’s FlyKnit technology was only about using a single yarn of thread to produce a shoe that fits as well as a sock, well, think again. It’s also the first step in wiring a smart shoe for conductivity.
Take a look at the two images above and tell me there aren’t striking similarities. One day a shoe really will be smart. But it’s not magic. It’s not going to just happen. You have to first invent it in your mind. Then you have to convince others to believe it. Then you have to build it.
Which brings us to our third step: manfucturing. As we begin to produce more materials in space, we will have the benefit of 3D printing these new exotic materials in zero gravity. That means we have the potential to produce these esoteric, machine-invented materials that could never be created naturally on earth. We may even find new materials ourselves as we begin to mine the asteroids already in our solar system. Look to both places for answers.
IV. Blockers To Building It
As you might imagine, the blockers to building this are potentially significant, but not out of the realm of possibility. Nike is most definitely not this far ahead in its thinking for creating an interstellar-capable shoe, but I’ll tell you one thing. Their marketing department would absolutely love to sponsor the first astronaut who lands on Mars.
When the first human foot touches the ground on Martian soil, and leaves an imprint on that soil, pictured for prosperity across all human history, who do you think will want their logo imprinted in that footstep? Nike.
So they better start saving up now for sponsorship rights, because Elon may just make the shoe himself and put the Space(X) marks the spot on the bottom of it. After all, he’s already hired Iron Man to design the space suit.
Machine learning and exotic space age materials are no problem for SpaceX. Nor is manufacturing parts of their own design. But they also haven’t been designing sexy and performant shoes for decades. That’s Nike’s house.
If I was a betting man, I’m placing my chips on a Nike x SpaceX callabo for our first Smart Space Shoe. After all, they already worked together on McFly’s time machine sneaks.
from Sean Everett on Medium http://ift.tt/2aqHyyT