Nike “Back to the Future” Shoes Don’t Power Lace, But These Ones Do

Published on: 2011/09/16 - in Featured Science & Tech

Nike’s recent announcement that they had created “Back to the Future” 2015-era “Air Mags” sneakers – featured in the second film of the movie franchise – was received with great enthusiasm by fans.  Not only did this release bring an iconic image from that movie to life, but all proceeds from the sales would go to the charity founded by the film’s star: The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

However that enthusiasm was dampened somewhat by the fact that only 1500 pairs of shoes would be auctioned off – with successful bids so far running into the thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars – but these sneakers were also designed without one important feature from the movie version: the laces don’t self-tighten.

Scene from “Back to the Future II”

This was particularly upsetting to those fans who had earlier discovered a patent Nike had taken out a couple of years ago, for a shoe design that did include self-lacing, and hoped this appearance would include that feature.

However a clue may have been left in a new promotional video for the sneaker, featuring Christopher Lloyd reprising his role as Scientist Doc Brown, when a shoe store employee (played by Tinker Hatfield, Nike VP of Design and Innovation) comments that self-lacing shoes will not be available until 2015.

If that quip indicates that Nike will indeed wait four more years to release an automatic lace tying shoe – perhaps otherwise fearing to disrupt the ‘space/time continuum’ by producing them now – they may be too late to be the first to do so.

In a video uploaded to Youtube in July of 2010, tinkerer Blake Bevin revealed a prototype shoe [video] that featured a mechanism on the back that actually tied (or “tightened up”) the laces in a manner similar to the shoes in Back to the Future II.

She has since released a second video revealing a 2.0 design that self-laces with the tying mechanism built into the sole and out of sight.

The creator has set up a website where she stated having a goal to launch her design in mid to late 2011. And in a recent blog post, Blake revealed an interesting connection between his project, The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and Nike’s recent offering when she wrote “my grandmother is a Parkinson’s sufferer as well, that is a cause that is close to my heart and it’s really great what they’re [Nike] doing.”

Blake Bevin Power Lace shoe

Blake went on to say that although her project was inspired by the science fiction concept from the 1989 movie, its main purpose and functionality was to be geared towards helping the disabled –  not only for the lacing mechanism she designed, but for other unrevealed features as well.

For more information about Blake Bevin’s “Power Laces” shoes design, you can visit her website.

To make a bid on one of the remaining available Nike Air Mags shoes, with proceeds going to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (and matched, up to $50M by Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki) visit the eBay auction page.