Precision eyewear is usually expensive, but Nike’s latest ocular innovation just redefined the upper limits of a pretty penny. At an eye-watering $1,200, the Nike Wing sunglasses are what you’ll see worn by select athletes at the Olympic games in Rio.
“There are 2-3 athletes in Rio that will wear Nike Wing,” Nike spokesperson Rachael Feldman told Digital Trends, adding that the athletes will make the decision on their gear up until his or her event, and depending on weather. “Athletes who have worn Nike Wing leading up to Olympics, are [Track & Field competitors] Henrik Ingebrigtsen and Brittney Reese.”
The Nike Wing employs a single-body design where the lens extends through the frame, eliminating hinges. Nike says that the nylon mix traditionally used for eyewear wouldn’t work for the Wing’s single-body design, so it had to use glass, which is optically superior to plastic. Nike realized that it had limited expertise with glass and turned to eyewear company VSP Global and optics specialists at Zeiss for help.
Through rapid 3D prototyping and wind tunnel testing spanning 20 months, the trio developed the single-body curved glass with fractal cuts and creases that enhance aerodynamic flow, and a ventilated brow-bar that allows airflow to reduce fogging. The designers were so obsessed with aerodynamics that they streamlined the strap because the material would cause turbulence at the back of the head, Wired reports.
The strap, which comes in two sizes, goes around the back of the wearer’s head to hold the Wing in place, while a silicone nose piece is the only other point of contact. One of Nike’s goals with the Wing is for athletes to forget that they’re wearing them. Reducing the contact points was one crucial ingredient, and the other one was weight. The Nike Wing weighs an impressively light 26 grams, or less than an ounce.
Form aside, the function of eyewear is in its optical qualities. The Wing features the Nike’s Speed Tint that cuts glare while allowing more red light (and thus filtering out blue light), which the company says “has a calming effect on the body.”
Too bad it has an alarming effect on your wallet. The Wing has yet to hit Nike’s online store, despite a planned availability date of August 5, but the company assures that consumers will be able to buy soon.
*Updated by Marcus Yam on 8/15/2016 to reflect additional comments from Nike.