Bending down to put on and lace up a pair of sneakers is a simple action that many of us take for granted. For those with mobility and movement challenges, Nike has created its first hands-free sneaker called the GO FlyEase that also happens to arrive in the middle of a pandemic when minimising touch is an important part of staying healthy.
Some who closely follow the footwear industry believe the GO FlyEase are Nike’s long-awaited answer to the popular Crocs line of slip-on sandal shoes that often leave those with an eye for fashion weeping for the future of humanity. But while the GO FlyEase offer similar functionality — namely, the ability to easily slide your feet in and out of the shoes without the use of your hands — aesthetically, they look like a regular pair of laceless running shoes.
Unlike crocs, which use an optional ankle strap that can be flipped out of the way, Nike designed its new GO FlyEase with a bi-stable hinge mechanism that allows the sole to separate just before the heel portion, creating a larger opening to freely slide a foot in and out. The separated heel portion is held in place with an elastic tensioner band that also keeps the shoe securely closed while it’s being worn and walked around in sans laces.
To make them easier to remove without the use of hands, the GO FlyEase also feature a protrusion off the heel that can be safely stepped on using the other foot to hold them in place while the shoe’s bi-stable hinge mechanism is opened. Your days of physically kicking your shoes off and sending them flying down the hallway when you come in the door might soon be over.
You can argue that Nike’s self-lacing Adapt sneakers inspired by the props in Back to the Future II are the company’s first hands-free sneakers, and using the Nike Adapt smartphone app, they come close to being a hands-free solution. But accessibility is still limited because simply sliding your foot in without reaching down isn’t easy, and the Adapt line is still priced well over $US300 ($394). When first made available to select Nike fans starting February 15 (with worldwide availability coming sometime later this year), the New Go FlyEase will reportedly sell for around $US120 ($158). That’s still not as cheap as Crocs, but simply being an alternative to Crocs that don’t look like Crocs is a huge selling point.