Puma is about to get more high tech.
The athletic apparel and footwear brand has announced the debut of the Fi self-lacing sneaker, short for Fit Intelligence — an answer to rival Nike’s Adapt BB sneakers.
The automated training shoe, which launches in 2020, was designed for workouts and light running, outfitted with a micromotor powering a cable system that controls the lacing through swiping up or down on the Fi module. It also comes with a smart sensing capability that adapts to the foot of the wearer, who can monitor and adjust the fit through Puma’s smartphone app.
The Germany–based company will select a handful of consumers to beta test the shoe in exchange for feedback on usability, design and wearability. (A sign-up directory will be available on the Pumatrac training app.)
“Fi is a platform that can be used for many different things,” said Charles Johnson, Puma’s global director of innovation. “We want to learn what those things are from people who have experienced it.”
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It’s not the first time Puma has worked on technology to produce a self-lacing sneaker. In 2016, the brand crafted its first wirelessly connected adaptive fit shoe, the AutoDisc, which serves as the predecessor to Fi.
“We have created a product that speaks to the future of sport, which is life in motion,” Johnson added. “It’s fast and changing all the time.”
Unlike Nike’s Adapt BB, the Puma Fi doesn’t automatically tighten, with the cordless motor located on the tongue. Upon its release next spring, the shoes will retail for $330 — less than Nike’s $350 sneaker that hits the market in February.
The two sportswear giants also went head-to-head last summer, when Nike filed suit against Puma for purported patent infringement in a Massachusetts federal court. The Swoosh accused Puma’s North America division of unauthorized use of its Flyknit, Air and cleat assembly technologies, and despite a challenge, the court denied Puma’s motion to dismiss.
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