True innovation and technology to help the consumer have always been appreciated, and while most companies tell you they strive to develop ideas for the consumers, some ideas just don’t produce. Enter Brooks Running and Superfeet.
Brooks has been a major player in the running game forever and makes shoes built for every body type and every distance. The Glycerin, the Beast, the Adrenaline, the Ghost — all names that runners know and love.
Just this fall, Brooks released the Levitate (check out our first look here) that uses a brand new DNA AMP Foam in the midsole to provide intense energy return (it really does feel great underfoot). The upper is made of Brooks’ new 3D Fit Print and FitKnit that wraps your foot in a soft, cozy blanket. That alone would be enough to warrant a story, but that isn’t it.
You might notice the different shades of blue in the midsole of the Levitate in the shoe above. If not, here is a closer shot:
Now, some would say that is a manufacturing flaw and ask for a discount. Where is the quality control? Actually, this shoe is perfectly designed. Let’s start from the beginning:
SuperFeet has partnered with HP to create FitStation, a biomechanical measuring device that will be placed in running specialty stores. This machine asks the consumer to walk across a step about four steps in length and to stand on a station to measure pressure patterns, heel rotation, propulsion index, and dynamic knee variations — in other words, how you run.
This information is then downloaded into a 3D printer that will print full-length orthotic insoles perfectly customized to your gait cycle and foot. The cost of a set of orthotics from an orthopedist, who uses the same machine, is around $350-$450. The Superfeet set? Scheduled to be $150, and made in the USA. That works, but that isn’t all either.
Remember that blue midsole? Using your information gathered for the insole, Brooks has decided to create truly personalized shoes. The different colors of blue in the DNA AMP foam are different densities.
Using your biomechanical data, Brooks injects the foam into a shaped mold and tunes specific zones of the midsole to your impact zones. If you are a heavy heel striker, it is made more dense in that area. If you are a forefoot runner, more spring and response is added.
Once the midsole is made, it is then glued and sewn to the upper and shaped to fit (the edges are cut and shaped to streamline underfoot). While I watched for maybe an hour, a complete shoe was measured, molded, and constructed for a consumer. This is groundbreaking, people.
With Nike charging $250+ for marathon shoes, and most running shoes nearing (or exceeding) the $150 price point, you may wonder what Brooks’ new footwear will run you. Well, retail is set $180, and the machines used to produce the custom orthotic insoles are already in 12 stores nationwide (listed here).
Instead of purely cosmetic design, Brooks has made performance personalized — something most brands mention in nearly every performance-related press release. This stuff is serious, and seriously exciting because it is tuned to the exact specifications of the wearer’s foot. The Brooks Levitate is already a great shoe, but soon it will be great and truly your own.
I can only imagine the applications of this technology for other sports — especially basketball — if other companies decide to go this route. Imagine cushioning tuned to your jump, or more on the lateral side where you push off, or softer in the heel for heel strikers.
The running market has traditionally been the leading innovator for new technologies, so we can only hope this catches on. For now, I’m waiting to get my pair this spring and truly have my shoes on my feet.