How do you make Great shoes better? from Outsidecom

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A fun read on how important research labs are for brands and where technology can aid the athletes. A nicely done piece by Outside.com! 

How Do You Make Great 

Shoes Better?

Start with Olympic athletes, analyze the footstrikes of 

dozens of volunteers, and then feed all the data into 

an architectural software program named after a bug.

How Do You Make Great Shoes Better?

To figure out how to make smarter shoe designs, New Balance’s Studio Innovation Group analyzes how real people run–from star athletes to everyday volunteers.    Photo: Ravi Vora

Two years ago, Kim Conley was testing new track spikes for New Balance, and she was skeptical. New Balance’s engineers had taken data about her landing patterns, fed it into a state-of-the-art software program, and then used a 3D printer to tailor five different designs specifically for her running style. All of which sounded intriguing, but Conley, an Olympian and two-time US champion, wasn’t convinced. “To be totally honest, I wasn’t sure how much I’d be able to feel a difference with the finished project,” Conley says. Track spikes, after all, aren’t meant to be noticeable–they’re supposed to do their job and let elite racers focus on winning.

Then she started training in the prototypes. One pair stood out right away. “They had a snugger fit, and gave more traction,” Conley says.

Kim Conley.   Photo: Ross Dettman

A few months passed, and Conley qualified to race at the World Track and Field Championships, in Moscow. Shortly before the meet, Sean Murphy, who heads New Balance’s Sports Research Lab, asked Conley which shoes she planned to wear for the race. The same prototypes that she’d been wearing for six months, she responded. “We were like, are you kidding, you still have those?” Murphy says. The shoes weren’t meant to last more than a few workouts, but Conley had been using them for months. In fact, she wouldn’t wear anything else. “It was a really good moment for everyone who worked on the project,” Murphy says. It meant that the engineers’ ultimate goal–learning whether there was a new way to build shoes–was working.

To read this entire story from Outside.com, please go to http://www.outsideonline.com/1963886/how-do-you-make-great-shoes-better

Author

  • Larry Eder has had a 50-year involvement in the sport of athletics. Larry has experienced the sport as an athlete, coach, magazine publisher, and now, journalist and blogger. His first article, on Don Bowden, America's first sub-4 minute miler, was published in RW in 1983. Larry has published several magazines on athletics, from American Athletics to the U.S. version of Spikes magazine. He currently manages the content and marketing development of the RunningNetwork, The Shoe Addicts, and RunBlogRun. Of RunBlogRun, his daily pilgrimage with the sport, Larry says: "I have to admit, I love traveling to far away meets, writing about the sport I love, and the athletes I respect, for my readers at runblogrun.com, the most of anything I have ever done, except, maybe running itself."

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