Watch Reebok’s robots make a pair of distinctive ‘Liquid Factory’ sneakers

The robots in Reebok’s video may look as if they’re preparing an exquisite dessert fit for a Michelin-star restaurant, but in reality they’re employing a 3D-drawing technique “to draw shoe componentry cleanly, precisely and in three-dimensional layers.” That’s right, they’re knocking together a pair of shoes.

The gloopy-looking gunk oozing from the robots’ nozzles is actually a proprietary liquid material created especially for Reebok by BASF. The “Liquid Factory” shoe-making process is set to be employed at a new sneaker manufacturing location opening in Lincoln, Rhode Island, early next year.

The innovative layering technique will be used to “create totally unique footwear, without the use of traditional molds,” the company said this week.

reebok-liquid-speed-2
Reebok
Reebok

With his job titled listed as “head of future,” it’s little surprise that Reebok’s Bill McInnis has little time for sneaker-building techniques of the past.

“Footwear manufacturing hasn’t dramatically changed over the last 30 years,” McInnis said in a release. “Every shoe, from every brand is created using molds – an expensive, time-consuming process. With Liquid Factory, we wanted to fundamentally change the way that shoes are made, creating a new method to manufacture shoes without molds. This opens up brand new possibilities both for what we can create, and the speed with which we can create it.”

reebok-shoe

The former NASA engineer said that the new process allowed his team to “program robots to create the entire shoe outsole, without molds, by drawing in layers with a high-energy liquid material to create the first ever energy-return outsole, which performs dramatically better than a typical rubber outsole.”

He add that the Liquid Factory process also creates “a unique fit system that stretches and molds around the foot, providing a three-dimensional fit.”

Depending on your outlook, the result is either an awesome-looking shoe guaranteed to delight even the fussiest of feet, or a bonkers design apparently the work of a highly imaginative ketchup artist. Either way, it’s certainly distinctive.

To promote its robotic 3D-drawing technology, the Adidas-owned company has created a limited-edition Reebok Liquid Speed sneaker. Three hundred pairs of the U.S.-made shoe are available, each costing $190. Would you put them on your feet?

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Hi-viz bike reflectors and a tiny flashlight

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Computing

Enjoy Windows on a Chromebook with these great tips and tricks

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only software.
Wearables

Sony’s weird Wena isn’t a smartwatch, it’s a smart watch strap

Sony's Wena smart watch straps have been around since 2015; but the company has now decided to launch them outside of Japan, starting with the U.K.. The straps convert traditional watch straps into smart watches.
Movies & TV

First ‘Doom Patrol’ trailer introduces DC Universe’s ‘Titans’ spinoff series

DC Universe debuted the first trailer for its live-action series Doom Patrol, a spinoff from its gritty, dark superhero show, Titans. Doom Patrol premieres February 15 on the streaming service.
Outdoors

Puma’s self-lacing sports shoe gives Nike’s Adapt BB a run for its money

Puma has unveiled a self-lacing shoe to take on Nike's Adapt BB. The fit can be adjusted via a smartphone app or the Apple Watch, with additional changes possible via a small touchpad on the top of the shoe.
Outdoors

Shark attack: Drone-based research may help ease swimmers’ fears

Researchers in Australia have used drones to try to learn more about what kinds of sea creatures come close the shore, and their findings may go some way to easing the fears of swimmers worried about shark attacks.
Mobile

Alphabet’s Verily is reportedly working on shoes that can track your weight

Fitness tracking is getting increasingly important, but while the likes of Apple are working on fitness-tracking watches, Alphabet's Verily is turning to shoes. According to a report, Verily is working on shoes that can track your weight.
Deals

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…
Outdoors

Strava joins Slopes to record your ski and snowboard stats

Skiers and snowboarders can now share their activity on the hill within their Strava profile thanks to a new collaboration with the fitness-tracking app and Slopes, an app designed for use on the hill.
Deals

REI slashes prices on The North Face, Columbia, and Nike clearance Items

It's never too early to plan your next adventure and REI is your one-stop shop to get you prepared. Now until February 18, REI is offering up to 50 percent off on camp gear, outerwear, winter boots, and lifestyle footwear. Find discounts…
Deals

REI drops prices on Suunto, Fitbit, and Garmin Fenix smartwatches

Looking for some great deals on outdoor and fitness watches? Garmin, Fitbit, and Suunto smartwatches have all been discounted for a limited time during the REI Winter Clearance Sale.
Emerging Tech

Tokyo 2020 is on track to create Olympic medals with recycled electronics

The committee behind the Tokyo 2020 Olympics revealed that it is on target to be able to forge all winning athletes’ gold, silver and bronze medals from recycled electronic waste.
Outdoors

Skullcandy turns to action sports with the Vert Bluetooth earbuds

The new Skullcandy Vert Bluetooth earbuds are designed with action sports athletes in mind, putting audio controls on a convenient dial that provides glove-friendly options to pause and play music, and adjust volume.
Outdoors

Uber’s bikesharing service is eating into its regular business

A bikesharing service acquired by Uber nearly a year ago is causing riders to take fewer car journeys with the company. It is, however, part of the plan as Uber looks to offer an integrated mobility platform for cities.