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Powerlace creates "paradigm shifting" auto-lacing shoe

Powerlace creates "paradigm sh...
It isn't quite a match for the Nike MAGs from Back to the Future II, but the Powerlace auto-lacing shoe is bang on schedule, and its creators hope it will cause reverberations throughout the shoe industry
It isn't quite a match for the Nike MAGs from Back to the Future II, but the Powerlace auto-lacing shoe is bang on schedule, and its creators hope it will cause reverberations throughout the shoe industry
View 4 Images
The Powerlace shoe's thermo polyurethane sole is designed to be durable and flexible while also forming an anchor for the locking and unlocking mechanism
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The Powerlace shoe's thermo polyurethane sole is designed to be durable and flexible while also forming an anchor for the locking and unlocking mechanism
Take away the fancy auto-lacing mechanism and the current version of Powerlace is a fairly standard running shoe
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Take away the fancy auto-lacing mechanism and the current version of Powerlace is a fairly standard running shoe
A lever at the back of the shoe releases the locking mechanism, allowing you to easily get your foot out
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A lever at the back of the shoe releases the locking mechanism, allowing you to easily get your foot out
It isn't quite a match for the Nike MAGs from Back to the Future II, but the Powerlace auto-lacing shoe is bang on schedule, and its creators hope it will cause reverberations throughout the shoe industry
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It isn't quite a match for the Nike MAGs from Back to the Future II, but the Powerlace auto-lacing shoe is bang on schedule, and its creators hope it will cause reverberations throughout the shoe industry
View gallery - 4 images

Auto-lacing shoes are here, finally. And pretty well right on schedule. Thirty years after Back to the Future II sold the world on the concept in a fictional 2015, a startup called Powerlace in St Hubert, Canada has created a shoe that's claimed will pave the way for a paradigm shift in the shoe industry. The company's system uses a pressure plate in the heel to tighten shoes and a level at the lower rear end to release them, with an adjustment puller near the tongue.

"I always hated to tie my shoes," Powerlace co-founder Frederick Labbé tells Gizmag. He thought there had to be a better, more efficient way to do it, and seven years ago started tinkering with ideas. Two years ago he met his Powerlace business partners, and they've since been working full time on the project together.

"We had to study the traditional [methods] of shoe manufacturing and find a way to implement our technology in the process," he says.

They went through dozens of prototypes, starting with existing shoes that they modified and then later building their own from scratch. "The most important thing for us was to have a simple and effective system," Labbé says. "We did not want batteries, motors, or any unnecessary weight."

The Powerlace shoe's thermo polyurethane sole is designed to be durable and flexible while also forming an anchor for the locking and unlocking mechanism
The Powerlace shoe's thermo polyurethane sole is designed to be durable and flexible while also forming an anchor for the locking and unlocking mechanism

Eventually the developers settled on the current system, which uses highly-resistant cables to hold your foot in the shoe. Inserting your foot triggers the mechanism, which locks into place at a tension level set by a pull tab on the outside upper section. The tension in the laces can be adjusted separately, too, by moving the lace lock.

A thermo polyurethane sole serves as support for the mechanism as well as anchor for the lever that unlocks the mechanism, while the tongue opens right out once pressure is released from the laces.

The team has tested the system up to 200,000 lacing cycles, which if it stands up to real-world use would mean the mechanism could operate without a hitch for 68 years if used four times a day – surely much longer than the rest of the shoe would last (I know I'm lucky if I can get two years daily use out of my shoes before they fall apart).

A lever at the back of the shoe releases the locking mechanism, allowing you to easily get your foot out
A lever at the back of the shoe releases the locking mechanism, allowing you to easily get your foot out

Powerlace is running a 60-day Kickstarter campaign to fund a production run of a men's running shoe design, with US sizes ranging from 8-12 and four colors (orange, blue, green, gray) available. If successful, the shoes are expected to be ready by May 2015. Early bird pledges of CAD 175 will net you one pair of shoes, with the normal price at CAD 195.

Women and children's sizes and alternative designs are on the cards for the future, but Labbé says the team first wants to get this men's model off the ground.

We should note that these are not true "power laces" as envisioned by Back to the Future II when Marty McFly puts on shoes that automatically fit to his feet. But it's the closest you'll get for now – at least until Nike makes good on designer Tinker Hatfield's statement in February that power laces would indeed hit next year.

Check out the Kickstarter pitch video below to see the Powerlace shoe in action.

Sources: Powerlace, Kickstarter

View gallery - 4 images
19 comments
zevulon
one of my favorite parts of the video is how much effort they go to explain what the powerlace is not , and how little time is spent precisely explaining what it is.
all they really tell you is that it's heel activated and back of the heel shoe released. for such a revolutionary and patent protected product, and such a damn long video, they could really take the time to explain how it works......
fred_dot_u
"highly resistant cables"
Highly resistant to what? Acid resistant? Sunlight resistant? Ah, electronically resistant... no, that makes no sense either.
Who writes this copy?
DavidB
Why bother, though? All I needed to hear was that they cost $175, and I couldn't care less about how they worked...or even whether they worked.
It's a bit like wondering how easy it is to adjust the heater controls in a Rolls-Royce.
David Earnest
And if you need such a device in your daily life? You should consider not having any children and do the human race a favor.
Synchro
Stupidly expensive, and I suspect it's still slower than this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMuNjnNyaiA
dingodoctor
This technology could be very popular with triathletes who always look for how to shave seconds off the transition from bike to running, and these are priced in the same range as other high tech running shoes. I wouldn't want to buy them though without knowing how good the shoe performs.
toolman65
the video is offensive. little attention paid to the actual product in comparison to how "hip" you will appear. that and the overblown music. i,m buying shoes, not going with 300 fellow warriors to fight Xerses.
as for the product, i can buy elastic laces that do the same thing for $10 from any serious sports store.
DonGateley
This rather interested me until I saw the word KickStarter. Read Scamsvill.
0aksey
For more shoelaces, minimal effort and inspirational music, there is also zubits, campaign has finished though. http://www.gizmag.com/zubits-magnetic-shoe-closures/34215/
GiolliJoker
I never thought there could be people so bothered about lacing their shoes. However there are already effective solutions on the market like the Boa Technology: http://www.boatechnology.com/
@DonGateley So far I had no issues with Kickstarter, why do you despise it?