Friday, November 21, 2014

Powerlace auto-lacing shoe : No longer in the future

Thirty years after Back to the Future II sold the world on the concept of an auto-lacing shoes they are here, finally. A startup called Powerlace in St Hubert, Canada has created a shoe that they claim will pave the way for a paradigm shift in the shoe industry. The company's system uses a pressure plate in the heel to tighten shoes and a level at the lower rear end to release them, with an adjustment puller near the tongue. Powerlace co-founder Frederick Labbé tells Gizmag thought there had to be a better, more efficient way to do it, and seven years ago started tinkering with ideas. After studying traditional methods of shoe manufacturing rhey went through dozens of prototypes, starting with existing shoes that were modified then later building their own from scratch. They developed a mechanism which uses highly-resistant cables to hold the foot in the shoe. Inserting the foot triggers the mechanism, which locks into place at a tension level set by a pull tab on the outside upper section. The tension in the laces can be adjusted separately, too, by moving the lace lock. A thermo polyurethane sole serves as support for the mechanism as well as anchor for the lever that unlocks the mechanism, while the tongue opens right out once pressure is released from the laces. The team has tested the system up to 200,000 lacing cycles, which if it stands up to real-world use would mean the mechanism could operate without a hitch for 68 years if used four times a day.

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