Nike and Puma are probably the only two names working in the smart shoe department. Not long ago, Nike “just did it” with the launch of a self-adjusting iOS controlled basketball shoe launch. And now standing in competition, Puma is set to launch a self-lacing sneaker Puma Fi with iPhone control.
Engadget’s Richard Lai tested the upcoming futuristic product that has been under development for three years. Now, this is not Puma’s first time with automatic shoes. If you remember, Puma experimented with the laceless Autodisc that turned out quite well. The company is picking up from there and moving towards a new direction in shoe technology.
Puma Fi Design and Features
The all-black design runs down with a cordless motor at the top of the shoe in Fi. This motor replaces the traditional laces to offer a tightness adjusting panel. Fi comes with blue strings made of Dyneema (something also used in the fishing industry) attached to the motor, which tightens when operated accordingly.
There is a hidden removable battery powering the Fi placed in a water-resistant pocket inside the shoe. It can be easily charged by putting shoe heel on the Qi wireless charging mat included with the shoes or through a simple charging case.
A number of blue LED lights cover the tongue of the shoe that indicate grip tightening and display battery life. The battery incorporated with the Fi can keep it juiced up for five to seven days before going fully discharged. It takes merely 90 to 120 minutes to recharge fully back again.
According to Lai, the Puma Fi is just like any other ordinary lightweight sneaker when in use. Being 428grams in weight with the motor, Lai said that it is hardly noticeable while walking. An automated mechanism inside the shoe keeps the walking comfortable. Swipe up and down on the show tongue and you can adjust the tightness. Three swipes up can make the shoe reach the highest level of tightness.
The real convenience comes with the power to adjust the sneakers through your iPhone. You can change tightness, make small adjustments, see the remaining battery, and do things that are not possible with on-shoe controls.
Puma Product Feedback Program
The sneaker lack activity tracking and GPS tracking but one cannot deny that both Puma Fi, as well as Nike’s smart sneaker, are the members of the first generation of sneakers controlled by smartphones. The trend has just begun and we are in for a lot more feature-rich, smartphone-connected sneakers or even other wearables for that matter.
The Puma Fi is set to launch in spring 2020 at a price of $330. However, preparing for this future sneaker war, Puma is asking for more customer value and that is why launching an open beta program. According to this program, the company will be giving the Fi to customers in exchange for valuable customer feedback.
To get the shoes, just download Puma’s PUMATRAC app, where the company will soon announce the availability.