Hard-to-Find Patents Reveal Nike’s up to something. Is it their Next Big Thing?

Patent activity always leads market activity and when the COVID-19 pandemic surprised the world in 2019, it put a stop to many anticipated developments. One of which could be Nike’s smart shoe, and we’re not talking about a self-lacing shoe, but a shoe decorated with sensors to track activity and performance and provide real-time feedback and coaching to a wearer. The first patent was applied for in 2014 and was a cooperation between Nike, R/GA – an advertising agency, and Bend Research – a biotechnology company. Since then, 9 patents have been issued to the group – the latest in August 2020 – dealing with activity tracking and classification and coaching feed-back. Nike hasn’t publicly mentioned the smart shoe or cooperation, and to our knowledge, no one has highlighted these patents yet. Could this be Nike’s next big thing?

Figure 2A from U.S. Patent No. 10,729,964 depicting the array of sensors embedded in a smart shoe. 

With Nike’s eyes set on a $50 billion annual revenue by 2022, something as innovative as this could be the golden ticket. The family of patents titled, “Action detection and activity classification” shed light to the vision of what a smart shoe is in Nike’s view. Physical activity performance can be detected and classified by various algorithms and templates using sensors placed all around the shoes. These templates can be used to identify particular activities like types of sports, drills, etc., as well as user, terrain, and time of day among others. Using the acquired information, a computer processes it and provides real-time coaching feedback to the wearer. An example shared in the patent involves a real-time feedback to a soccer player who’s kick did not meet an anticipated forward acceleration by telling them to increase their foot forward acceleration. Additionally, someone squatting can get feedback on the weight shift to their heel and whether it was adequate or needs to be adjusted. In the day and age of wearables and fitness tracking, there’s no better time to come out with these smart shoes. We anticipate it will happen very soon. 

Stay updated with patent and market activity in the Smart Footwear market by signing up for the Smart Footwear Patent Forecast®.