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(Nike Photo)

Nike is disrupting shoelaces.

The Beaverton, Ore.-based shoe giant unveiled its latest technological innovation on Tuesday, showing off the new Nike Adapt BB basketball shoes that use a power-lacing system designed to automatically tighten and loosen around a foot, depending on an athlete’s activity.

Nike has been working on the shoe for years, and Fast Company said it “could change the trajectory” of a company that already dominates the shoe industry.

The Adapt BB shoes feature a custom motor and gear train that can sense tension needed by the foot. Athletes can use two buttons built into the shoe or an accompanying smartphone app to “input different fit settings depending on different moments of a game,” according to Nike. Here’s more from the company’s announcement:

For example, during a timeout, a player can loosen the shoe before tightening it up as they re-enter the game. In a forthcoming feature, they can even prescribe a different tightness setting for warm-ups. Plus, players can opt in to firmware updates for the FitAdapt technology as they become available, sharpening the precision of fit for players and providing new digital services over time.

“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, said in a statement. “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.”

The shoes will retail at $350 and go on sale Feb. 17.

(Nike Photo)

Michael Donaghu, Nike’s vice president of innovation, wrote about how the Adapt BB fits into Nike’s tech-fueled vision for the future of footwear and apparel. From his piece:

After all, what we’re launching this week goes far beyond a shoe. Our long-term vision for innovation at Nike is a world in which intelligent products adapt at the speed of sport to improve an athlete’s performance.

Shoes in our Nike Adapt platform — of which Nike Adapt BB is the first — can update and evolve after purchase, letting consumers opt in to provide you with new services and features through smartphone-like technology.

In other words, we’ve finally added firmware to footwear, letting us continuously improve the product you’ve already bought, responding as need be to changing preferences and environments.

What’s more, you don’t just connect with footwear through Nike Adapt. You connect with Nike.

What do I mean? Imagine a cycle, where opting in creates data about your activity to inform personalized guidance from Nike. And as your performance improves, we can connect you to new product and services for your new goals — and the cycle continues.

For most footwear out there, buying the shoe is the end of a transaction. But here, buying the shoe is just the beginning.

Nike previously released self-lacing shoes to the public in 2016 with its Nike Hyperadapt 1.0. It also debuted “adaptive technology” when it showed off the 2015 Nike Air Mag that had the self-lacing feature. Those kicks were only available in limited quantity via auction, with proceeds going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Nike used Amazon-owned streaming service Twitch to make today’s announcement.

“Many of our community members are sneakerheads, a lot of which watch FreshStock, a popular show on Twitch that profiles streamers and their love of kicks,” Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin said in a statement to GeekWire. “Given this cool fandom, we love when companies cater to the wide variety of interests that exist on our service. NIKE broadcasting a new shoe reveal exclusively on Twitch is also an awesome way to engage their fans.”

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