“Pokemon Go” may have reminded the world the power and capabilities of augmented reality just over two weeks ago, but athletic giant Nike has had its own versions of the technology in the works for years.
While “Pokemon Go” brought a widespread awareness of the technology’s ability when it was made available in the United States on July 6, Nike filed a patent for an augmented-reality design system on July 5. Nike defines this design system as “any system that may be used to design one or more articles or objects using a combination of real-world views that are merged with computer generated images.” Building off past patent filings, Nike’s most recent patent would allow a user to wear a virtual-reality head-mounted display to design his or her own shoe in a real-world environment.
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An excerpt of the patent states this augmented reality design system “could be used for designing various physical and/or functional components including, but not limited to: straps, heel counters, toe caps, outsoles, midsoles, laces, as well as other functional components for an article.”
From the drawings and descriptions detailed in the patent, this patent could give Nike the opportunity to take its Nike iD customization tool a step further. This latest patent filing is one of many of Nike’s efforts to break into virtual and augmented reality, such as its partnership with technology company NOVA to build a 3-D digital design system for nearly instantaneous digital print applications, photo-real 3-D visualizations and ultra-rapid prototyping, which was announced at the 2015 Nike Investor Day. Footwear News reported last year there would be a rise in demand for shoe customization, especially due to the growing involvement of virtual reality in retail.
There is potential for the two companies to benefit from their similar technological advances. “Pokemon Go” has steadily held its position as the No. 1 most-downloaded iTunes app for more than two weeks and has notably drawn more foot traffic to retail stores and malls since its release.
“Generally there will be more consumer foot traffic at their stores, especially from people who are tech savvy and attached to their phones,” mobile app expert Jordan Edelson recently explained to FN.
Edelson, the founder and CEO of New York’s Appetizer Mobile, added, “Retailers can attract these tech savvy consumers via digital coupons and promo codes that are enticing to them. Both mass and footwear retailers can embrace beacon technology, which allows them to target consumers with in-store digital promotions. The biggest thing retailers need to keep in mind is that they have to understand the type of customers they are attracting and personalize the offers to meet their interests.”