As much as we want it to be true: No, Spider-Man didn't make the sneakers you're looking at here. It was Adidas, which just introduced a concept running shoe dubbed "Strung," featuring a first-of-its-kind upper material that was developed from the ground up. Unlike traditional textile creation methods, such as knitting or weaving, Adidas says its latest Futurecraft innovation allowed it to place yarns in any direction across the shoe — a technique that, in turn, should translate to a lightweight "cocooned" feel with extreme forefoot flexibility and a precise lockdown fit. In other words, with any sudden movement the runner makes, the Strung is designed to offer the sensation that it's part of their body, not an attachment.
"Coded" — To complement its Strung upper, Adidas is using a revamped version of one of its "4D" midsoles, which the brand says is its "most radical lattice design to date" thanks to a new shape that's intended to cater to forefoot strikers. The thickness around the heel, for instance, has been minimized to reduce weight, while the rubber outsole was tweaked to provide better traction. This midsole approach is a stark contrast to what Adidas' main rival Nike is doing with its top-of-the-line shoes, like the Alphafly Next%, which packs a ZoomX foam that keeps runners lifted from the ground in exchange for better energy returns. And Adidas has done something similar recently with its Adios Pro.
With its 4D midsoles and web-esque upper coming together, Adidas says the Futurecraft Strung is the first step in building a fresh generation of "Coded" products. What that means, according to the company, is that a shoe like this one is designed specifically to support the movement of 5m/s (or faster) runners — and the idea is to expand that tailored concept to serve other sports and gear, beyond running footwear. Might you imagine a football (soccer) boot that's intended to fit a player depending on how they tend to strike the ball?
Robotics — An essential part of the development of Strung are the robots that manufacture the multi-directional yarns, which use a single piece of material to individually select each thread and seamlessly put together this wild-looking Futurecraft upper. The key, Adidas says, was to ensure that there weren't any excess components being used throughout the process, as it wanted the project to fit well into its vision and goals for creating sustainable products.
"The original inspiration came from architecture and some interesting experiments where we saw robotics used in a creative way to build fibre structures," said the team behind Adidas' Strung technology. "We wanted to see how we as a team could interact with robotics and athlete data in a meaningful, creative way. The process of creating and refining new Strung software, hardware and prototypes led to increased buy-in and more and more people joining as development became more complex."
“We’ve started with running but that’s just the beginning.”
Ultimately, Adidas told Input that it wanted to figure out a way where they could work more creatively with robots, rather than simply use them as automation tools. The result is a machine that, with data collected from athletes, can quickly make a shoe that's going to fit perfectly around someone's foot, and that may just be the beginning: "The more we understand about how data can become design code, the more we can take that and apply it to new Strung textiles."
Wait for it — Unfortunately, if you're hoping to buy a Futurecraft Strung pair, that won't be possible, as the silhouette is simply intended to showcase what can be accomplished with an upper that didn't exist until now. That said, Adidas says it plans to make its first consumer sneaker featuring Strung in late 2021 or early 2022, noting that it won't necessarily be one that's for running. "We’ve started with running but that’s just the beginning," the company said. "We want this to be the most data-informed textile, based on foot anatomy and athlete movement."
Either way, we have a set of pictures that are probably going to make you wish the Futurecraft Strung was actually launching. Or, maybe you'll just wish you had a fancy robot to help you make shoes, clothes, and anything else you could dream of. Sorry, but stay tuned to find out what Adidas has planned next for Strung and its Futurecraft innovations as a whole — and let's hope these sneakers end up being as great as the brand is hyping them up to be.
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