Earlier this year a curious sneaker popped up on Nike Inc.’s website. Instead of lying flat on the ground, the shoe has a band that squeezes it so its sole bends in the middle, creating an unusually large opening for a person’s foot. Just slide your toes down into the gap and press down with your heel, and the band contracts to close the shoe into its proper shape and hold the foot firmly in place.
This is the Go FlyEase, a breakthrough in Nike’s attempts to make a sneaker that’s effortless to put on and take off. Removing the shoe is a little more complicated than putting it on—wearers use a hand or the other foot to engage a built-in kickstand—but the band system makes a big difference for many people with disabilities who struggle to lace up Air Jordans. If its technology can be integrated into other sneaker designs, the Go FlyEase could open up all sorts of possibilities.
“The North Star for us was creating something that was hands-free,” says Sarah Reinertsen, who worked with Nike’s innovation team to develop the shoe. “We just couldn’t get there right away.”
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