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Sneakers Go High Tech

Boot Camp feature for Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Sneakers go high tech. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. Three of the biggest names in sneakers are taking different approaches to technology in their products. Nike has partnered with Philips…to brand digital music players that communicate with devices for tracking speed and distance that clip onto sneakers. Technologies like Bluetooth and GPS are on the way. At Adidas, they're building sneakers with small computers designed to adjust cushioning automatically while you're running. And Reebok is out with the Pump 2.0. Senior VP Gene McCarthy….says unlike the first Pump sneaker introduced 15 years ago, the 2.0 version inflates the upper portion of the shoe automatically as you step…and uses a smart valve to adjust the pressure. McCarthy says it's not a gimmick…

"One of our engineers actually worked for NASA on the space shuttle and we also, being in New England, have an alliance with MIT and some of our engineers also are from MIT. So they worked quite closely on this. The reason in the athletic shoe industry that people think it might be gimmickry rather than technology is because they still are sneakers and we try to make them fun."

Sneaker technology isn't cheap. A pair of Pump 2.0 sneakers goes for about 120 dollars. The Adidas 1 sneakers are priced at 300.

"We realize that this isn't for everybody. We believe that demand will probably exceed the supply."

A new basketball version is scheduled to debut at the NBA All-Star Game in February. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.