Tag Archives: Self-Lacing Shoes

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.

McFly! Self-lacing shoes really are coming this year

Aside from the time-travelling DeLorean DMC-12 and hoverboard, there was another notable design from Back To The Future II we’ve all been waiting for to come to fruition: self-tying laces.

At last, Nike has confirmed that they are indeed working on the Hollywood-inspired shoe. Earlier this month, shoe designer Tinker Hatfield (who had also created Marty McFly’s shoes for the film) expressed that the self-lacing Nike MAGs will be available later this year coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the original BTTF flick.

The new footwear will feature power laces, in which motorized rollers in the sole sense weight and tighten when someone steps into the shoes, as seen in the iconic film. To support evidence that this innovation is more than just a clever concept, Nike has already filed a patent for the futuristic footwear. This should come with little surprise, as the idea has been in the works for a while now. If you recall, the company has already experienced incredible demand for such a sneaker back in 2011 when they had auctioned off 1,500 pairs of limited edition MAGs. At the time, the proceeds went to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.


This announcements follows in the footsteps of recent reports, which indicate the rise of smart clothing. While wrist-adorned devices will continue on, Gartner believes the emergence of less invasive devices, particularly embedded garments, will potentially disrupt the wearables space. So much so that shipments of smart attire is projected to increase from a mere 0.1 million units in 2014 to 26 million units in 2016 — and maybe more, pending on the popularity of the power laces!

While we await the arrival of these high-tech high-tops, a San Francisco-based Maker Blake Bevin has already created her own kicks capable of tying themselves using ATmega168. When a person steps into the shoe, a force sensor reads the pressure of their foot and activates two servo motors, which apply tension to the laces, thus tightening the shoe.

To commemorate this next-gen footwear, we’ve compiled 10 high-tech shoes indicating that the future has arrived.

Shoes that play music

The adidas MEGALIZER lets breakdancers create their own music with their moves.

Shoes that light up

Using an Adafruit NeoPixel strip and FLORA (ATmega32U4), anyone can add some flare to their high-tops.

Shoes that give directions

Bluetooth-enabled Lechal sneakers sync with Google maps and help guide you to your destination.

Shoes that are 3D-printed

Nike’s Vapor Laser Talon cleats not only used 3D printing for prototyping, but implemented a 3D-printed plate into the final product that made its debut at Super Bowl XLVIII.

Shoes that start fire

The sole of Rocky S2V Substratum hiking boots feature a small compartment specially designed to fit a fire-starting kit.

Shoes that power devices

German researchers have built shoe-sized devices that harvest power from the act of walking.

Shoes that receive tweets

For the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Nash Money Design teamed up with adidas to create the Social Media Barricade shoe. Equipped with a two-line LCD screen, the sneaker were able to receive Twitter updates.

Shoes that repair themselves

Developed by London designer Shamees Aden, the self-healing concept shoes are 3D-printed from material using protocell technology.

Shoes that save lives

A new sensor-laden shoe made by Swedish researchers allows firefighters to be tracked in places where GPS fails.

Shoes that know when you need a new pair


Apple has applied for a patent of “smart shoes” that would come with embedded sensors to track your activity and tell you when you need a new pair.