In the 1960s and early 1970s, adidas was a large producer of tracksuits and training shoes, but its running shoe line failed to compete with Nike’s newly popular waffle trainers. In 1991, adidas acquired Runtastic, Inc., which is an activity-tracking company that developed running apps for mobile devices. In 2014, the athletic apparel manufacturer plans to expand its smart shoe line with launches of three new styles equipped with Google mobile platform technology.
adidas announced that its line of smart shoes will consist of two running and one lifestyle shoe. The two running shoes are the Energy Cloud Smart and Supercloud Smart, which are lightweight and employ foam cushioning to improve comfort. The Supercloud Smart adds a second layer of foam underfoot to provide increased responsiveness. Both shoes will be equipped with a mobile app, which lets the wearer customize their shoe and track activity. The runner can set goals and receive encouragement when they are close to reaching them.
In late 2016, Adidas released the world’s first ever shoe that changes color. The color changing shoe is called the Adidas Futurecraft 4D and it is available from $200 on. It features a 3M reflective layer and uses a Dynamic Boost midsole for increased energy return.
The adidas Futurecraft 4D is a prototype of a mid-top sneaker with a 3D-printed midsole and upper that changes color based on temperature. The shoe was designed by adidas’s team in Germany and is being produced by Carbon, a Silicon Valley company that sells 3D printers to produce high-end footwear. The shoes take five hours to print, then an additional 12 hours to finish and dye. The bottom layer is made of a high-performance, thermoplastic material called TPU, which can be melted and reworked.
The Futurecraft 4D is not the first sneaker to feature a 3D-printed midsole. In late 2016, Nike released a limited edition of the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite track shoe with a 3D-printed midsole. The shoe was built from carbon fiber and took 3.5 hours to print.
The Futurecraft 4D’s color changes can be customized to meet the needs of an athlete because it is paired with Adidas’s miCoach app, which allows athletes to measure their running and training data. The Futurecraft 4D also features sensors on the sole and heel that track data.
The shoe was first unveiled to the public Tuesday at the ATLE World Forum in San Francisco. There, it was featured with a 3M reflective layer that allows it to change color in different lighting conditions.
This article explores the tech behind this amazing sneaker, how it is revolutionizing the world of sports, what other colors and colors you can expect to see on feet soon, and much more!
Carbon was founded in 2008 by Joseph DeSimone, an expert in 3D printing. In May 2016, adidas announced a collaboration with Carbon to produce the first pair of performance running shoes with a midsole made on a customized, high-end 3D printer. The shoes will be unveiled at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City during New York Fashion Week in September 2016. The sneakers will retail for $200.
Adidas and Carbon first enlisted the help of Nike designer Tinker Hatfield to develop the shoe (Hatfield was awarded the “Legends Award” by Nike). After working on the design for over two years, Hatfield met DeSimone at last year’s Burning Man festival in Nevada. Hatfield designed the shoe and worked with DeSimone to make it a reality. The premium material component of the shoe is engineered nylon that contains carbon fibers inside.
The shoes are constructed using a “Rapid Reactor” 3D printer. This rapid-prototyper is an extruder made by Carbon and was specifically designed for the job. The machine generates nylon-carbon composite, which is then fired in nitrogen at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the material cools, it’s shaped and cured using light to create a solid object that has not been manufactured before. This method uses less energy than conventional 3D printing, which often requires multiple materials that require much more time to build. Carbon’s technology allows printing of a single material in much less time, and with fewer materials. The prototype is the first of its kind, and adidas hopes to develop more shoes using this technology.
Carbon’s Rapid Reactor (Source: http://www.carbon3d.com/products-services/rapid-reactor/)
The adidas Futurecraft 4D is currently only available in limited quantities and will eventually be released commercially. But when it does hit the retailers, it’ll be one of the most unique shoes on the market.
Made with a light but durable material similar to carbon fiber, these shoes will react to temperatures around your foot and change colors in response. They’ll also have an elastic upper and a pliable sole with more water-resistance than most running sneakers.
It’s not just this new model that makes Futurecraft 4D so special though. adidas claims that the shoe was designed using state-of-the-art digital fabrication techniques. Using computer generated material models and physical prototypes, adidas’ designers were able to accurately replicate the specific qualities of each individual material.
So what does all this mean in reality? Not much by itself. The ability to change color, however, will make the shoes a must have for athletes who like their kicks to match their outfit or their sneakers to match their shoe laces. Add any other special features (i.e. odor-resistant, antimicrobial, etc.) and you’ve got the futuristic shoe that all runners would like to own.