Friday, March 18, 2005

Jeek market gets Adidas cybersneakers

What's a Jeek? They inhabit the space at the intersection of the Jock and Geek markets. (OK, I just made that up). Once a thinly-populated niche, it has been growing rapidly as sporty types acquire camera-phones and iPods, and nerdy types start seeking a little more fresh air and fitness.

It's a trans-age-group niche that buys a lot of stuff just because it's cool. And "cool" is often enhanced by premium prices.

Today, into this discerning market, Adidas launches the Adidas 1. It's a running shoe that adjusts itself to it's wearer's pace, terrain, and fatigue level.

The shoe contains a battery-powered motor-and-pully system that changes the cushioning of the sole between the time the shoe leaves the ground and the time it next impacts the running terrain. A sensor in the heel measures compression, and computes from that whether the shoe is too soft or too firm. The computer brain sends the necessary instructions to the micro-mechanics, and the next time the runner's foot hits the ground the shoe will be more appropritely tuned.

All of this technology weighs in at under 40 grams. The rechargable batteries last for 100 hours of running. To save powewr, after ten minutes of walking the system shuts itself down. Of course, you can hit the "off" switch at any time.

Price tag? $250 per pair. Outrageous compared with regular running shoe prices, but not for hard-core runners, status seekers, or those consumed with techno-lust. The Adidas 1 could well be the iPod of America's $16+ billion dollar sneaker market.

No comments: