Ben Shaffer, Nike & Apple
by Da'Von B.
Over the weekend there was a story from 9to5Mac regarding a new Apple hire; Ben Shaffer who was instrumental in the development of the Nike Flyknit shoe (not the fuel band as FastCompany was so eager to point out). The overall consensus is that Shaffer will be a part of the team behind the mythical “iWatch” device, this seems likely in the event that this device is real and based on so much smoke in the air there’s sure to be a flicker of some truth to something in the Cupertino labs. But what would someone who was in charge of making a lightweight comfortable and stable running shoe do at Apple? In Fast Company’s small piece asking Why the company hired a shoe designer the question was basically answered, the device known as the “iWatch” is a wearable device. Consider this piece from the article while speaking with Shaffer:
What makes Flyknit so truly disruptive is that it isn’t a shoe–it’s a way to make shoes. As the team members who spent four years developing the technology like to say, they’re “breaking the sewing machine.” The old Nike model involved cutting rolls of prewoven material into pieces, and then stitching and assembling them. But with Flyknit, a shoe’s upper and tongue can be knit from polyester yarns and cables, which “gets rid of all the unnecessary excesses,” says Ben Shaffer, studio director at the Innovation Kitchen, Nike’s R&D center. The Flyknit Racer, one of the first shoes in the Flyknit line, is 5.6 ounces, roughly an ounce lighter than its counterparts. Nike uses only as much thread as it needs in production, and the shoe can be micro-engineered–tightened here, stretched there–to improve durability and fit.
If the assumption is that Shaffer will be a part of the “iWatch” team and the question is what will his role be? You could expand said assumption that his role will be related to the material that will be used and manufactured to wear this “wearable” device. If the idea is to get millions of people to have the desire to purchase and wear this thing you have to build for a multitude of wrist sizes logically someone who was able to lead a team to building an ultra lightweight shoe may be able to assist with building a comfortable probably adjustable wrist band for a miniature computer that won’t lead to irritation. This is simply using a little logic and deductive reasoning, no one outside of Apple really knows exactly what they’re building (regardless of what Bloomberg may want you to believe) and when this will be released. We’ll all see the fruits of such labor in due time, until then we should collectively chill.