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Leadership / Digital Transformation

Firmware Updates Bedevil Nike’s New Smart Shoes

If smart kettles, smart washing machines and smart meters were not enough smartness for you, for $350 (£325 if you are in the UK) you can now pick up a pair of smart shoes from Nike; replete with, it appears, firmware update issues and a buggy app.

The Nike Adapt BB range, first announced in January, is now available.

It features a custom motor and gear train that “sense the tension needed” to keep the foot snug. This can be done via the Nike Adapt application (for Android or iOS), which landed in Google’s Play Store on February 13.

“We picked basketball as the first sport for Nike Adapt intentionally because of the demands that athletes put on their shoes,” Eric Avar, Nike VP Creative Director of Innovation said when announcing the shoes, which also feature LED lights.

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“During a normal basketball game the athlete’s foot changes and the ability to quickly change your fit by loosening your shoe to increase blood flow and then tighten again for performance is a key element that we believe will improve the athlete’s experience.”

The tensile strength of the underfoot lacing is able to pull 32 pounds of force (roughly equal to that of a standard parachute cord) to secure the foot throughout a range of movement, Nike says of the Adapt BB’s “FitAdapt” technology.

“Players can opt in to firmware updates for the FitAdapt technology… sharpening the precision of fit for players and providing new digital services over time.”

Nike Adapt BB
Nike’s FitAdapt system

Users of the app can adjust the look and fit of each shoe and save up to three profiles with different fits and LED colors.

The app also keeps track of the battery level of each shoe and is needed for firmware updates. (Nike, erring on the side of caution, warns, “Please do not wear the shoes during the update as this may cause unintended failure.”)

Nike Adapt Firmware Updates Causing App Issues

Unfortunately, firmware updates being pushed out to the shoes are causing serious issues for app users. A growing number of frustrated reviews on Play Store attests to the problem.

A typical symptom is that whilst the right shoe pairs with the app and updates, the left shoe often won’t.

As one customer puts it: “After update it stopped working…wont pair with left shoe, says already paired and won’t pair with right shoe either…was working fine until the update… now app with shoes useless…way to hype a defective product Nike.”

Nike has been contacted for comment. The incident is no doubt a reminder of a rigorous Quality Assurance (QA) process when it comes to both firmware and app development.

See also: Developers: The Secret Ingredient for Keeping Up with your Customers

This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.

CBR Staff Writer

CBR Online legacy content.