Nike’s Extraordinary New Hands-Free Shoe Will Surprise You!

The newest footwear from this can-do sports brand has an inspiring backstory.

Nike's new hands-free shoe.

(Courtesy of Nike)

An intriguing hands-free hybrid of a high-arched traditional shoe and a sneaker straight out of the future, with standout cool credentials to appeal to people of all abilities, is launching this week. It is Nike’s Go FlyEase. And it’s all thanks to an inspiring call to action from a teen with cerebral palsy.

Nike’s chief designer, Tobie Hatfield, has worked with various Special Olympians, but he was motivated to develop the FlyEase easy-entry footwear line after receiving a letter from 16-year-old Matthew Walzer who has cerebral palsy, back in 2012.

In the letter, Walzer explained that after overcoming several physical limitations, tying his sneakers remained a challenge as he lacks flexibility in one hand. This determined teen wrote of his dream of going to college as a self-sufficient person who didn’t need to rely on the help of others with this task. The new Go FlyEase shoe follows on from a series of prototypes created by Nike designers especially for Walzer’s needs, and has been warmly welcomed by Waltzer himself on social media:

Nike are understandably proud of their “accessible and empowering” innovation. This revolutionary footwear combines adaptive functionality with a groundbreaking design to create a hands-free shoe that is secure in both its open and closed positions: “Once you see Nike Go FlyEase do its thing, you can't unsee it,” its website declares.

Underpinning the shoe’s extraordinary design is a  “tensioner band” similar to a giant elastic band, and a bi-stable hinge that hold the shoe in an open position at a 30-degree angle. Inserting your foot and then pushing it off with your other foot (a standard motion most people make when taking off slip-on shoes)  is all the wearer needs to do to put these sneakers on and take then off: “Step down on the "diving board" to click into a locked position—ooh! Pop back up by stepping on the "kickstand" on the heel—ahh!” Nike explains.

Bebe Vio, an Italian fencer who lost her limbs to meningitis as a child, walks using prosthetic legs. “Usually I spend so much time to get in my shoes,” Vio said in a statement as reported in The “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.”

Nike’s design team also says that this new shoe has been made to make life easier for everyone. It isn’t just for people with disabilities, seniors or others lacking the physical dexterity to bend over to tie their shoes. Sarah Reinertsen, a Paralympic athlete and a Nike FlyEase designer, told CBS News that busy parents and pregnant women also helped to inspire the concept of the new shoe.

Interestingly, this new hands-free shoe, several years in the making, is launching during a global pandemic. This makes it especially in tune with people’s hygiene-conscious and comfort-aware lifestyles.

The shoe will be available from February 15 in limited numbers, before it becomes more widely available as 2021 unfolds. Who knows, maybe these “shoes with a soul” will change the future of footwear for everyone.

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