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Photos: Get your (sneaker's) motor running

Eight designers worked on the Adidas_1 project in secret. Motor in running shoe's sole is designed to really respond.

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Topic: Hardware
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1 of 5 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Adidas_1

The Adidas_1 running shoe, which sells for $250, has a computer chip and a tiny motor built into its sole.

Designers believe that the hardware doesn't make the shoe heavier than a runner would like because it allows them to cut down on the foam used to shape the shoe bottom.

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2 of 5 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Shoe motor

The running shoe's embedded motor is powered by a tiny Sanyo battery about the size of a watch battery. Developers originally plucked motors from Furby children's toys for their early designs.

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3 of 5 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Tension sensor

The computer chip inside the running shoe gauges how a runner's foot is hitting the ground and "tells" the motor if more or less cushioning is needed. The motor attaches with a wire to a plate in the heel. With more tension, the heel becomes more firm. With less tension, the heel becomes softer. A data storage device was attached during testing.

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4 of 5 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Secret work

The Adidas_1 was in development for nearly three years. Eight designers worked on the project in secret, even baking their own circuit boards in a toaster oven so people outside the group wouldn't know what they were working on.

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5 of 5 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Pieces

Data from hundreds of hours of testing on the shoe was fed into computers so designers could decide how much tension was required on the wire between its motor and heel plate.

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