In a pair of patent filings made public Nov. 8, Nike outlined its latest ideas for smart garments.
The first patent, for an "article of footwear with soil-shedding performance," describes a shoe designed for trail running and activities in rainy or muddy environments. This self-cleaning shoe essentially acts like a sponge: The sole would absorb a little bit of water every time you took a step, and expel that water on your next step, squirting dirt and debris off of your Nikes.
"It has been found these articles of footwear can prevent or reduce the accumulation of soil on the footwear during wear on unpaved surfaces," the patent reads. "When sufficiently wetted with water, [the shoe] can provide compressive compliance and/or expulsion of uptaken water, to disrupt the adhesion of soil at the outsole."
That's a technical way of saying every other step will cause water to squirt out of your shoes, hopefully preventing mud and dirt from adhering to the sole. It would be in keeping with Nike's recent efforts, including its famous self-lacing shoe.
In the other patent filing, Nike outlines plans for a bodysuit that can teach you yoga, among other things. The bodysuit, which the patent filing refers to as "apparel with ultrasonic position sensing and haptic feedback for activities," is essentially a smart bodysuit with ultrasonic sensors on the arms, waist, knees, and legs, that pairs with a smartphone or computer to track your movements in real time.
Think of it like a motion capture suit, but instead of capturing movements for use in special effects or video games, this one is designed to match up your body's position and movements with, say, a yoga routine. When you're not moving correctly, if your downward dog needs to be more downward, sensors in the area of your body that needs adjustment would provide haptic feedback—they'd vibrate, guiding your movement like a high-tech yoga instructor.
Not only would these ultrasonic sensors be able to measure your movements, but they'd also be able to measure your respiration, according to the patent filing.
"The article of apparel further optionally includes a respiration sensor, positioned so as to detect expansion and contraction of the fabric, proximate to the ribcage and/or midriff of the wearer," the filing reads.
The respiration sensor would tell the suit, and the connected app, how much you were straining or exerting yourself. This information could be used to tailor something like a yoga routine to your particular strengths and areas you could improve on. It's an interesting application of "smart clothing" technology, a step up from the pedometers and activity trackers built into devices like the Apple Watch or your smartphone.
The Beaverton-based sportswear giant, Oregon's largest company, has increasingly focused on smart garments in its patent filings. A Nike spokesman declined comment.