Nike hands-free shoe inspired by people with disabilities

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BEAVERTON, Ore. – Nike has designed a shoe that is easy to put on and take off without the hands, a useful feature for people with disabilities.

The Nike GO FlyEase is part of a line of sneakers originally inspired by a teenage boy with cerebral palsy.

Nike said in a press release 2015 that designer Tobie Hatfield developed the FlyEase line after receiving a letter by Matthew Walzer, 16, in 2012.

In his letter, Walzer explained that he was born two months premature with underdeveloped lungs, which resulted in cerebral palsy. Although he overcame many physical limitations, tying his shoes remained a challenge due to the lack of flexibility in one hand. As the teenager prepared for college, he feared he would have someone to help him tie his shoes.

“My dream is to go to the university of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes to me every day,” Walzer wrote. “I’ve worn Nike basketball shoes my whole life. I can only wear this type of shoes because I need ankle support to walk. At 16, I am able to dress completely, but my parents still have to tie my shoes. As a teenage girl struggling to become fully independent, I find this extremely frustrating and, at times, embarrassing.

Once Walzer’s letter reached Hatfield, who had worked with Special Olympians on similar challenges, Nike said the designer contacted the teenager and began developing prototypes to meet his needs. specific.

Eventually, Nike delivered a special design to Walzer and continued to work to develop better solutions for those who face similar challenges. Nike says Hatfield’s journey led to the development of Nike FlyEase in 2015.

Now, six years later, the company is releasing the Nike GO FlyEase, a hands-free sneaker with a bistable hinge that allows the shoe to be secure in both fully open and fully closed states.

“This duality allows for another signature detail: the Nike GO FlyEase tensioner,” Nike wrote on its website. “The unique flexibility of the tensioner overloads an action many might take for granted (throwing a shoe) and completely reinvents that movement as the basis of accessible and empowering design.”

Nike says the hands-free shoe is suitable for a wide range of active lifestyles, whether the client is a Paralympic fencing champion like Bebe Vio, a student running in class, or a parent with their hands full.

“Usually I spend so much time putting myself in my shoes,” Vio said in a statement. “With the Nike GO FlyEase, I just need to put my feet in it and jump on it. Shoes are a new kind of technology, not just for fit athletes, but for everyone’s real life.

Sarah Reinertsen, another Paralympic athlete and Nike FlyEase creator, said CBS News that disabled people, pregnant women and busy parents helped inspire the concept of the new shoe.

The Nike GO FlyEase is initially available by invitation to select Nike members, with more consumer availability expected later this year.


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