Futurecraft STRUNG: Robots and Responsive Data Propels High Performance Running Shoe for Adidas
Adidas and its multidisciplinary R&D arm, KRAM/WEISSHAAR, create a new robotically designed footwear upper that breaks the textile weaving boundaries. Data-driven design has heavily impacted sports performance on and off the field regarding footwear and apparel. Adidas is no stranger to textile fabrication and data-informed responses to new performance products. Over the past five years, the iconic sports brand has been experimenting with shoe prototypes that focused on 3D scans of an athlete’s foot. During the exploratory phase of prototyping this technology, the company expressed an “open-source” collaboration with various manufacturers and creatives.
Partnering with organizations like Parley and Belgium-based 3D manufacturing company Materialise, Adidas was able to develop their “Ultraboost Parley shoes.” Produced from recovered plastic waste, this shoe design iteration was a step in Adidas’ development of their first Futurecraft running shoe. After the Ultraboost Parley shoe was created, Adidas collaborated with 3D printing company Carbon to make its first 4D running shoe using Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) in 2017. This form of 3D printing technology allowed for production time to last 20 minutes. In 2018 Adidas was able to crack the fabrication code and develop the first fully-formed pair of 4D running shoes. Since then, collaborative efforts with Materialise and Carbon have led the company towards its latest design iteration, Futurecraft: STRUNG. What makes this running shoe different from its predecessors comes three-fold. The production process incorporates robotics, data-mapping, 3D printing, and collected performance data from athletes. These design components enabled Adidas to design a shoe that exemplifies strength, flexibility, breathability, without compromising shoe weight.
Adidas Innovation Designer for their Futurecraft lab, Fion Corcoran-Tadd, shares in a press statement with WIRED, “There have basically been two ways to make a textile: there’s weaving, and there’s knitting.” However, with their new behavioral driven data and dynamic 3D printing technology, opportunities to experiment have increased. Corcoran-Tadd adds, “A lot of the decisions are human-made and very much informed by data.”
On October 8th, Adidas released a video showcasing their latest shoe’ design. The design team explains the advanced thread weaving process and how each thread is programmed in the video. Corcoran-Tadd narrates, “we can program single threads in any direction where each thread has a different property or strength. together they form this seamless network of really precise performance zones.” The team highlights that STRUNG will be the first running shoe that uses coded thread to amplify shoe production, speed, and data. Andrea Nieto, Innovation Designer on the Futurecraft Lab, explains how new opportunities for running performance have been reached. “this shoe is for your really fast runner […] we saw an opportunity to hyper optimize the solution for fast runners, and we just took it to the extreme.”