Puma is aiming to compete with Nike in the smart shoe arena, with the swoosh-bearing brand having released a self-lacing pair of sneakers earlier this month.
The former, though, has been in the game for a good few years now and actually showed off a self-lacing sneaker called the Autodisc back in 2015, around the same time Nike’s shoe – that would eventually become the HyperAdapt – dropped.
Unfortunately for the German company, the Autodisc wasn’t practical enough for retail as it was too heavy, too expensive and not all that comfortable.
Per Engadget, they’re now ready to actually release a self-lacing model – well, ready as in 2020 ready – with their latest creation, the FI (for “Fit Intelligence”) set to compete with Nike’s.
The all-black footwear will launch next spring and will cost $330. The shoes will also have blue LED lights displayed when in operation or while charging.
Their cordless motor will be top-side, unlike Nike’s, something Puma reckons will increase comfortability as there’s less underfoot. It’s attached to a network of blue Dyneema strings – the same material used in defense and fishing industries – which will tighten or loosen up based on the size and contours of one’s feet.
A water-resistant compartment (it’s not waterproof, by the way) houses a removable battery, which can be charged by placing the heels of the shoe on a small QI wireless charger or an exterior charging case.
The FI’s controls are quite simple. Swiping from toe side to ankle side will tighten and the motor will work as it sees fit. But there are three levels of tightening if you want a more snug fit. To loosen, you’d just have to swipe the opposite way.
You won’t have to do this everytime you put the shoes on, though, as the motor saves your preferences.
Additionally, the sneakers can be controlled via a smartphone but, while Nike supports both iOS and Android, the FI only works with Apple for now, with the added benefit of being compatible with the Apple Watch.