It looks like Nike isn’t the only one in the race to fulfil every sneakerhead’s fantasy with a self-lacing sneaker. Puma just joined the fray with the Fi – short for Fit Intelligence – a pair of self-lacing shoes that can be tightened with a swipe from your fingers.
In place of where the laces traditionally go is a raised black block. Inside that is a motor that reacts to an upward swipe to tighten, or downwards to loosen. This touch gesture is what sets it apart from Nike’s new HyperAdapt BB self-lacing basketball sneakers, which utilises buttons on the side of the soles to tighten and loosen the shoe. It’s also made for everyday use, including workouts and light running, while the HyperAdapt BB is specially designed for basketball.
The Fi has been three years in the making, and comes after Puma’s first attempt at self-lacing with the Autodisc. While its predecessor had a bright yellow colourway, the Fi sports a stealthy all-black design accented with blue cords that run into the motor.
“We have created a product that speaks to the future of sport which is life in motion. It’s fast and changing all the time.”
The motor isn’t the only smart feature of the sneaker. There are integrated sensors that can learn and adapt to the shape of your foot. Your smartphone and Apple Watch can also connect to the Fi, letting you adjust the fit of the shoe without bending down.
Included in the box is also a Qi-powered wireless charging mat to juice up the sneakers, which you’d probably use once a week seeing as battery life is purported to be around 5-7 days. Frequent travellers can also take out the included batteries and charge them in the included portable charging case instead of lugging the mat around.
While this seems exciting and all, the Fi will only drop in 2020 at US$330 (S$450). But there’s hope for all sneakerheads who deign to be the first. Puma is inviting a small group of their consumers to beta test the sneaker before its launch.
If you’re one of the lucky few, you can help Puma better the Fi by providing insights into its usability, design, engineering, and wearability. According to Fortune, Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton is part of this exclusive club. You will be able to register for a chance to be a beta tester via the Pumatrac app, available on the App Store and Google Play.
It looks like we’re finally going back to the future in some new kicks.