Nike developed a robot to clean and repair worn out sneakers

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,459   +171
Staff member
In a nutshell: Nike is testing a robot at its flagship retail store in London that is designed to clean and repair old sneakers. It's called B.I.L.L., which is short for Bot Initiated Longevity Lab. The system utilizes advanced robotics, water-based cleaning products and recycled polyester patches to refurbished worn kicks.

After loading a shoe into the machine, it creates a 3D model to pinpoint areas on the upper, the sidewalls and the outsole that need cleaning. Customers can also select patches to cover worn areas on the upper.

Once complete, a Nike store employee will add new liners and laces made from recycled materials to complete the refurbish. The robot takes about 45 minutes to process a pair of Air Force 1s, Nike said.

At present, the robot can only work on Air Force 1s, Air Jordan 1s, Space Hippie 01s, and Nike Dunks.

Noah Murphy-Reinhertz, sustainability lead at Nike NXT, said maintaining old products is deeply personal and that people will go to great lengths to care for their favorite shoes. "Repairing a product is a way to extend our memory with a product," Murphy-Reinhertz added.

B.I.L.L. will be available at Nike Town London through the month of September and is free to use. Nike said it complements existing services like Nike Refurbished and Nike Recycling and Donation, and hopes the pilot will provide valuable insights to help guide the future of sustainable services at the company.

Nike's latest innovation, at least at this stage, is little more than a flashy gimmick designed to lure customers into its store.

Devoted sneaker heads and even casual fashionistas likely already keep their prized possessions squeaky clean with soap, water and a bit of elbow grease, and I can not imagine too many folks are going to jump at the opportunity to plaster their kicks with gaudy patches. Kids might gravitate toward it for the theatrics but will adults be all that interested?

What's more, keeping customers in their current shoes kind of goes against Nike's business model of selling new products and keeping the money flowing.

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Posts: 6,407   +7,223
Nike hopes the innovation will teach them more about sustainable services
And it definitely will, like not to pollute environment by producing useless gadgets.

They play the same sentiment as Apple claiming they just made a new adapter to minimize pollution.


Posts: 1,024   +1,886
...lead at Nike NXT, said maintaining old products is deeply personal and that people will go to great lengths to care for their favorite shoes.

I have a few reasons why I try to maintain my shoes. It's not because I collect them and try to make them look like new so they can hide away in a box or sit on a shelf. Here are reasons why, no particular order:

1) I'm kind of frugal. I don't enjoy spending lots of money on shoes (or clothes. Take jeans, for example, I get Wranglers at Target for $20-25. Screw spending $50+ on a pair of jeans at Kohl's. I can buy two for the same price at Target).

2) The shoes I have on, they fit. They're not overly tight and they don't slide off my foot when walking. They feel good and when they do start to wear out and I have to find new shoes (a year or two later) I could find the same brand, model and color sitting on shelves, but the new shoe doesn't fit properly. It slides off my heel, or is too tight on the tongue or doesn't lace up tight. Now I have to go through the process of trying on a bunch of other shoes and it's a waste of time.

3) Many shoes these days are horrifically ugly. To a point that it hurts my eyes to look at them. Why would anyone want to wear these things? I want a nice, simple, clean look: white or blue or gray colored. Not florescent colors with odd designs and made out of crap materials that are overpriced.

4) I've tried multiple brands of shoes that weren't my normal go to brands because the shoes I tried fit well. My latest adventure to trying a new brand of sneakers was with Sketchers. (I've had some Sketchers shoes in the past that have been amazing, but the were more dress up looking or slip on shoes, not their sneakers). I drop almost $90 on a pair of them. Within 6 months, the inside memory foam is falling apart and falling out in chunks. Also, the sole of the shoe (happened on both shoes) had become separated from the toe and was peeling off and even on the heel, the same thing was happening. I didn't do anything special in the shoes, maybe walked a total of 6-8 miles a day in them. I wasn't getting them wet, didn't walk through snow and kept them clean with a soft cloth and plain water to wipe them down. $90 shoes falling apart in under 6 months....yeah, screw you Sketchers, I won't buy your shoes anymore. Back to New Balance and Asics shoes for me.

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,338   +8,536
Your high cost tax payer dollars at work? Can't believe Nike got beat to the draw on this one!