Credit: NIKE

Footwear company NIKE has launched another collection of 3D printed speakers. Named A.I.R (Athlete Imagined Revolution), the collection is made up of 13 concept speakers made with various technologies:  man-made sketches, computational and parametric design, generative AI, rapid prototyping, and 3D printers.

The colorway for the 13-product collection — spanning spikes, basketball shoes, a football boot and a lifestyle shoe — is a nod to company cofounder Bill Bowerman and his obsession with enabling the best possible athlete performance, the company says in a press release.

While we don’t know exactly what type of 3D printers has been used for this collection, we know that NIKE has always been a strong advocate of AM technologies – and in this specific case, has explored an approach to co-creation with athletes, in order to deliver a personalized footwear experience.

In an interview with our colleagues from designboom, John Hoke, Chief Innovation Officer explains that the NIKE A.I.R design team began using AI as a part of their mood boards which can generate inspirational images.

We began to create prompts together with large language models that conjured quick images. And because of the pace and the fidelity of those images, we were quickly able to move from a series of a hundred plus mood boards into a design. And then the design process moved from strictly 2D into something we call phygital design, both physical and digital,” he shares. From here, their computational designers picked up the pace and used mathematical algorithms and 3D design programs to take these 2D images, feed them into 3D printers and churn out the prototypes in just hours, maximum of a few days.

The real test of these initial designs came with athlete feedback. For example, marathon legend Eliud Kipchoge provided crucial input on the practical aspects of his prototype, highlighting potential issues like debris collection that designers still needed to consider. These feedback sessions came with a refinement process, which leads to an enhancement of the designs.

The A.I.R. project raises the bar for designing and perfecting athletic gear. Nike’s dedication to combining advanced AI (and other technologies like AM) with close athlete involvement offers endless possibilities for future innovation.

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