Today’s technology movement is doing its part to enhance people’s lives. Now, HandsFree Labs is taking on the hands-free footwear movement.
The Vineyard, Utah-based company has secured a strategic investment from Nike Inc. that includes an intellectual property license and extends the reach of its patented portfolio of Foot Activated Shoe Technology (F.A.S.T.) solutions, which allow consumers to step in and out of their footwear without using their hands.
“Our partnership with HandsFree Labs builds on Nike’s leadership in using innovative technology to meet consumer needs,” said Tom Clarke, Nike’s president of innovation. “Our Nike FlyEase platform is aimed at providing greater access to sport for all athletes, and we believe HandsFree Labs’ ‘easy on-and-off’ technology has the potential to broaden and enhance this effort by removing barriers to play and making sport easier for more people.”
“We run across all kinds of technological innovations that make specific moments in life easier for us,” Monte Deere, CEO of HandsFree said about the growing adaptive fashion category. “One of those is putting on and [taking] off our clothing, and in this case, our shoes. At [our own footwear brand] Kizik, we have talked about the fact that this [technology] is convenient for anyone who wears shoes. But we’re finding dozens and dozens of individuals giving us reviews and telling us they have back issues, as well as many people with Parkinson’s disease saying it is hard to reach down and tie their shoes.”
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Adaptive fashion, which includes hands-free footwear, has found a keen audience among the estimated 61 million people with a disability, from cognitive, mobility and sensory difficulties to more complex medical issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition to developing hands-free shoe technologies, HandsFree Labs is growing its own footwear business under Kizik, a line of men’s and women’s styles introduced in 2018. The company is planning to introduce a second label, Pilar, in early 2020. The athleisure line will be targeted to a younger audience and sold on a direct-to-consumer basis.
HandsFree Labs will continue to roll out its technologies through licensing deals with other footwear categories and manufacturers. “F.A.S.T. is a growing collection of technologies for the footwear industry and an irreversible step forward in the way shoes are made and worn, introducing broad accessibility and convenience in footwear,” Deere said.
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