Maker builds his own self-lacing sneakers

Footwear that’s just in time for Back to the Future Day! 

Aside from a time-travelling DeLorean DMC-12 and hoverboard, there’s one other notable design from Back To The Future II that has left us eagerly waiting to get our hands on feet in for years. During the cult classic, Marty McFly puts on a pair of Nike high-top sneakers that automatically lace and tighten on their own. With October 21, 2015 finally upon us, Maker Hunter Scott decided to do his part and help make such footwear a reality.


Impressively, Scott didn’t even need Dr. Emmett Brown’s help to bring this idea to life. Instead, he ordered himself a pair of knockoff Nike Air Mag sneakers and gathered several widely available parts, including an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328), a LiPo battery, a USB charger, a motor, a motor driver, a shaft coupler and a rotary encoder. He also incorporated a switch to turn the kicks on/off and a button to activate the system.

The BttF-inspired shoes came with removable strap which Scott ended up removing part of its velcro, allowing it to slide without catching. The Maker carved out a notch in the back to install the motor, shaft coupler and encoder, and used a little bit of fishing line to go around the top, providing the power behind the laces.


A force sensitive resistor taped beneath the heel of the insole lets the Arduino know when a wearer steps into the shoe, while a rotary encoder on the motor shaft ensures that all the power lace cycles are the same.

Admittedly, the DIY sneaks are not exactly likes the ones worn on the big screen. For one, they don’t loosen automatically — you’ll have to hit the button for that. Secondly, Scott points out that they pale in comparison to the speed of McFly’s kicks… for now anyway. Regardless, they’re pretty darn cool if you ask us! Intrigued? Check out the Maker’s entire project here, or watch them in action below.

2 thoughts on “Maker builds his own self-lacing sneakers

  1. Pingback: Back to the Future II technology that actually exists today | Atmel | Bits & Pieces

  2. Pingback: Go Back to the Future with these Maker projects | Atmel | Bits & Pieces

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