This week sees the launch of a special addition to the adidas roster, the Uncaged version of their extremely popular Ultra Boost line of technical running shoes.
To celebrate this they teamed up with London based Sam Labs and invited us last week to Fish Island Labs in Hackney to “hack” the Ultra Boost.
The evening began with a look at the new Uncaged version of the Ultra Boost in their initial launch colourways of various greys and red, as well as a closer look at the the Boost and Primeknit technology that goes into making the shoe the revolutionary runner that it is.
Then we were taken through to another part of the room and treated to a video presentation (as seen below) about how they were inspired by people taking their Ultra Boost and customising them by cutting the cage off as well as introduced to one of adidas’ resident “Boosters” who took the opportunity to explain more in depth the innovation behind the materials used.
The final part of the evening saw us taken through to the Sam Labs studio where we were presented with an Ultra Boost, some wireless logic modules and various materials and tools with which to “hack” the shoe. With the help of another resident Booster and one of the Sam Labs boffins we were shown how to make step-counters, a light activated light module, a twitter activated sound module as well as countless other possibilities. The genius of all this being that the whole circuit is made up on an app and is completely wireless, working on wi-fi.
Unfortunately our two man team underestimated the time it would take to implement the radical changes we had planned and in our effort to completely remove the heel counter (a move that almost brought tears to the eyes of the resident Boosters) we only managed to partly finish our shoe. Whilst we were doing this we were told of the importance of said heel counter for those customers who buy the Ultra Boost for running in. From a runners point of view as well as the flexibility of the sole unit, one of the most important parts of a shoe is the support offered to you in the heel area and thanks to the external plastic heel counter this can be clearly seen and felt. Beyond fitting it with a light up wheel (to fill the hole left by the partial removal of the heel counter) whose speed was adjustable by a separate slider we never managed to fully realise our plan. Some others managed to get a little further with one team managing to fit a pair of wheels and make a self powered shoe.
The event was put together to show how adidas have been receptive to the idea of their customers customising their shoes, and how through that they’ve unknowingly influenced it’s future. Thanks to adidas for inviting us down to get a better understanding of this new project and we’re eager to see what else the forward thinking brand has in store for us this year.