The new running shoes by Adidas, called AlphaBounce, are an example of how technology can be used to reimagine the entire running shoe concept.
Instead of relying only on new materials and some design tweaks, the company has used motion-capture technology.
This technology is called ARAMIS Digital Image Correlation System, and it was used to understand the differences in stress and tension caused by different materials in footwear. This was done with the help of high-speed cameras with sensors that capture information as fast as 500 frames per second. The algorithms, based on skin, bone and muscle mapping, allowed Adidas insights into every aspect of the human foot, including measurements, movement, stress points and how materials and shoe assembly will affect grip, comfort as well as design. Incidentally, the US space agency Nasa uses the ARAMIS technology to inspect the hull of spacecraft.
There is more tech quotient. The upper part of the shoe is made of a Forged Mesh, which means the entire upper layer is made of one seamless piece. This in itself isn’t entirely unique, because we have seen Nike and Reebok deploy similar shoe design methods over the years. But in the case of the AlphaBounce, what immediately stands out is just how soft it is, and the smoothness of the texture. While it is incredibly lightweight, flexible and comfortable, it is also quite strong with a thick density mesh, providing a secure fit. It is not as good with ventilation as perhaps the Nike Free line-up, but is on a par with the Reebok ZPump Fusion.
Once you wear the AlphaBounce, you become immediately aware of the amount of cushioning under the foot. But don’t expect it to be soft like a comfortable blanket, because it has been kept firm enough to provide a bit of the spring effect during jogging or running. While we really liked the Reebok ZPump’s under-foot cushioning, Adidas has taken the comfort aspect to the next level—these new shoes will absorb the jarring impact that tend to get transferred from a hard-running surface to the calf muscles. A lot of runners prefer feedback from the surface they are running on, but we observed that the AlphaBounce tends to muzzle that a bit. While running, the circle pattern design and the materials used in the outsole provide considerable grip and traction.
The build quality is another thing that stands out with the AlphaBounce—it has been put together well, the colours look good and the materials feel like they will be able to handle considerable abuse.
The shoes will be available in three colour options—black with a dash of red and green, black with silver inserts and a white lower part, and black with a gold and purple combination.
Overall, the Adidas AlphaBounce ticks all the boxes for a running shoe—comfortable, well-cushioned, lightweight with plenty of grip on offer. At Rs10,999, it is priced on a par with most of the recent running shoes too.