Nike’s New Slip-On Sneakers Are Great For People With Disabilities
You can put this sneaker on without using your hands.
Nike’s newest shoe, the Go FlyEase, is the brand’s first wide release of a laceless slip-on sneaker. While laceless shoes are nothing new (thank you, Velcro!), Nike’s Go FlyEase technology goes beyond the convenience of not having to tie laces — they’re hands-free.
It is the first active shoe for the general public that will allow anyone to step into the sneaker, lower their heel and have the shoe lock into place on their foot. No hands are required to put on or take off these shoes and keep them secure on your feet.
Sarah Reinersten, the manager of FlyEase Innovation at Nike, said the debut of the Go FlyEase comes at a time where people are looking for convenience and eliminating touchpoints due to COVID-19.
“This shoe really responds to our current-day situation living in these Covid times,” Reinertsen told CNBC. “This is actually an innovation that has been cooking up in our innovation kitchen for a little while … but it just came out right at the right time, when we needed it more than ever.”
The sneaker incorporates a bi-stable hinge along with a tensioner to make this hands-free capability possible.
Nike posted a video to their YouTube channel that explains the behind-the-scenes design process for the shoe and how they made it work:
Reaction to the shoe, which is scheduled to hit select markets on Feb. 15 for $120 (with a wider release slated for later in 2021), initially focused on the Go FlyEase’s convenience factor. Tweets like the one from reporter Steve Kuzj’s tweet emphasized the futuristic design and ease-of-use.
Tired of tying shoelaces? Sick of strapping Velcro? Well, Nike is finally taking us into the future with their first hands-free shoe: the Nike GO FlyEase. pic.twitter.com/al4wq7iXzP
— Steve Kuzj (@SteveKuzj) February 2, 2021
However, others had a different take.
“We’re getting so lazy,” replied Twitter user @deepee418 to Kuzj’s tweet.
We are getting so lazy.
— DPG (@deepee418) February 2, 2021
While convenience is part of the goal for Nike Go FlyEase sneakers, the original purpose for the hands-free design was to make slipping shoes on easier for people with disabilities.
Nike has been working on adaptive sneakers since 2015, when then-16-year-old Matthew Walzer wrote to the shoe company because he wanted a pair of shoes he could put on himself. Walzer told Nike he has cerebral palsy and could only use one hand. In response, Nike designed the LeBron Zoom Soldier 8 FlyEase, a shoe with a zipper around the back to allow for one-handed use.
Flash forward six years to the accessible Go FlyEase.
“Usually I spend so much time to get in my shoes,” said Bebe Vio, a Paralympic wheelchair fencer, in Nike’s press release for the hands-free shoes. “With the Nike GO FlyEase, I just need to put my feet in and jump on it. The shoes are a new kind of technology, not only for adaptive athletes but for everyone’s real life.”