With sporting fever sweeping through London and the countdown to the games ticking by fast, the Nike demigods issued a bold challenge at their Olympic Innovation Summit yesterday. i-D’s Sean Baker was there to report…
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Taking over a disused glass factory in Clerkenwell for the day, Nike presented their revolutionary Olympic plans. Much like Apple’s global press conferences, these occasions are a modern day mass of sorts, as crowds eagerly congregate to worship at the alter of the super brands. Ever the kings of hyperbole, the various presentations were packed with motivational metaphors: “Defy Gravity”, “Nothing is impossible”, “We Will Unleash Speed”, all set Twitter alight and had us reaching for our trainers. And the motivation works a treat, I was riding high on dreams of bursting over the finish line at a Rio velodrome in 2016 until my bike chain flew off en route back to the office and a Billingsgate-bound meat truck coated me with London sewage whilst I attempted to fix the mishap.
Back to proceedings. It struck me that the gospel according to Nike was split into two main chapters, let’s call them testaments…
The Elite Testament
Opening proceedings Martin Lotti, Nike’s Global Head of Olympic Design and Innovation revealed the tip-top technical kit and trainers that will clad the torsos and toes of the Nike endorsed Olympic squads, the superhero stars of the summer ahead. A definite nod to Mr Incredible, for SS12, Team USA will mostly be wearing red lycra suits dotted with white darts (face mask and cape optional). By cutting small holes into the fabric, Lotti explained that the innovative textiles is more aerodynamic than skin itself, streakers beware!
The Everyman Testament
Whilst Nike’s summit did celebrate the medal winners of the world, the most captivating part of proceedings was focussed on the ocassional exerciser; the morning swimmer, the weekend footballer or the bus-stop sprinter. Stefan Olander, Vice President for Digital Sport, dropped buzz phrases like “Sensors are smaller. Sensors are smarter. Sensors are cheaper” and ”People love recognition” as he demonstrated the brand’s ongoing effort to make sporting success more accessible to their mass market following.
Generating the kind of intel usually only available to elite athletes with a bus-load of backroom staff, the Nike Fuelband and smart chips in new Nike+ trainers are capable of creating valuable insight into the wearer’s performance; sprint speed, jump height and ‘Fuel Points’ can all be measured and then fed back to the user’s Nike+ account via Bluetooth or USB. Whether pounding pavements, dancing across studios or dashing across sports fields, by making “the invisible, visible” Steffan explained Nike are encouraging one and all to raise their game.
The highlight of the day came as we were invited to get down to some dunking of our own, road-testing the products Nike so excitedly extolled the virtues of. Donning our Nike+ kicks, balls flew and nets swooshed, I could present you with evidence of my meagre attempts but instead to the right you can see the technology at its best as dunk sensation, Jus Fly, shows how it’s really done at the LA launch of the Hyperdunks+.
So it would seem Nike are playing 21st century gaming giants, the kings and queens of Xbox controllers and Wii motion sensors, at their own game… By developing the Nike+ ecosystem, a virtual environment for people’s sporting pursuits, they really are making life a playground… #GAMEONWORLD.
Images courtesy nikeinc.com