Recall the moment when NIKEiD first launched, and all seemed right in the sneaker world. Now, envision a utopia where you can go beyond the 2D realm of your computer screen, and right into the strange and impactful world of virtual reality.
Nike was awarded a patent on Feb. 3 which attempts to explore the possibility of merging virtual reality eyewear with shoe design. The multinational company is reportedly looking to appeal to next-gen Kanye Wests all over the globe by creating an interactive device that will allow shoppers to customize every aspect of Nike products.
This idea lands somewhere in the middle of NIKEiD, its custom shoe design site, and Niketown stores where you can customize shoes and check out swatches of fabric. These recently released images show off Nike's new patent as a user stands in front of a physical, shoe-shaped object, while wearing a "head mounted display" that would overlay graphics on the object.
The "interacting device" mentioned in the patent's details looks an awful lot like a pen. Could this be an element used to allow company designers to create their virtual concepts onto the shoe-shaped object? Whatever it is, Nike's idea for overlaying digital information on physical objects is very similar to what Microsoft is envisioning with its HoloLens augmented reality system. From what you can see in the patent design below, the Swoosh may use a simple editing program to run on a virtual reality headset that blends the best of the NIKEiD site and the much beloved Microsoft Paint.
With Nike attempting to step out and try something new, again, there are a few things that are still unclear in its design. Will the technology be intended for Nike's in-house designers to use to create prototype shoes for their star athletes? Or, will the patent be used to engage shoppers looking to customize their favorite sneakers and Nike-branded clothing? Will the company create only the software to run through an augmented reality hardware device such as Microsoft's HoloLens or Google's Google Glass or Sony's SmartEyeglass? Is there even a guarantee that this patent will be turned into a consumer product?