Aglet — a 'Pokémon Go' for sneakerheds — wants to turn the world into a game

A former Adidas director is launching a location-based app that lets you collect virtual sneakers.

Ryan Mullins left his job as Director of Future Trends at Adidas on August 31, 2019. About a month later later, on October 1, he started building Aglet, a smartphone app he describes as Pokémon Go but for sneakers. With it, people can turn their physical steps into in-game currency, which can then be used to purchase and collect virtual sneakers from brands including, Nike, Jordan, Adidas, and Yeezy.

The concept is simple: the more active you are, the more Aglet bucks you earn, though it also depends on the sneaker you choose to "wear" in the app (more on that below). And since this is a location-based game, much like Pokémon Go and to a lesser extent Nike's SNKRS app, there is a map to explore the real world around you, letting you unlock challenges and access sneaker Treasure Stashes along the way.

Wear. Shelf. Shop. — These are the three sections Aglet is divided into. In Wear is where you choose which sneaker you want to "walk" in and use to collect virtual currency. This is important because not every shoe is the same, as there are different tiers of hype — similar to sneaker culture itself. For example, a classic all-white pair of Air Force 1s will get you 40 Aglet every step, while a Yeezy 380 is 1,300 Aglet for the same amount of steps. If you want to buy an Air Jordan 4 "BRED" to wear in the app, that's going to cost you 820 Aglet.

Naturally, there's an in-game purchase aspect to the Aglet app. The company is also selling what it calls "Gold Aglet," which can be purchased in packs ranging from $1 for 5 to $80 for 1,000. So what can you get with these that you can't with regular Aglet? Rare sneakers, like a Nike Air Yeezy "Red October" that sells for 600 Gold Aglet in the game's Shop. To be clear, these aren't real sneakers you can put on your feet, meaning you'd be spending money to collect virtual pairs you can display on your Shelf in the app.

Still, if you think of Aglet as a trading card game or something akin to it, the idea isn't that far fetched.

"Phase one" — Mullins says that this iteration of Aglet is only the start, noting that "phase two" will be more about adding a more physical element to it, and collaborating with brands to use technologies such as augmented reality to sell sneakers, apparel, and other gear inside the game. What he envisions is putting a New Era hat or pair of Nikes on the Statue of Liberty, in AR, and people having to make the trip there and use their phone's camera to view, unlock, and, finally, purchase the product.

Though Mullins wouldn't say which brands Aglet will be working with, he said those types of collaborations will be key for his company's growth. He also said that, while right now is "probably the worst time" to come out with a location-based app — because we're in the midst of a global pandemic — Aglet will launch with a Ghost Mode allows people to use the app's built in map to explore the world from their home and claim prizes from there.

When you discover a location in Ghost Mode, you may be prompted to answer questions that will test your sneaker knowledge. If you succeed, you can "unbox" a new pair of sneakers to add to your Aglet shelf. And considering how some people are going outside to for a quick walk or run, they can use those steps they're racking up to hit up the Aglet Shop and collect sneakers that way.

Coming soon to Android — If you have an Android phone, you likely won't be surprised to hear that Aglet is only going to be available on iOS when it launches today, April 12. That said, Mullins told Input that Android version of the application is in the works — right now, he said, his team is just trying to work out some kinks with the different screen sizes that Android supports, among other things.

As someone who loves sneakers, Aglet does have a certain appeal to me — the same way Pokémon heads are into Go — but I can't wait until what Mullins refers to "phase two" come to life. The idea of going out in New York hunting for rare sneakers that I can unlock in the game and potentially buy sounds right up my alley. Sadly, however, what with the coronavirus keeping us on lockdown for the foreseeable future, it's probably going to be a while before that happens.

For now, Mullins is hoping to lure people into the app by giving away two pairs of highly coveted sneakers, the Travis Scott Jordan 1s and his Nike SB Dunks — both of which go for around $1,000 on the resale market. And yes, those you'll actually be able to wear for real, not just in the Aglet app.