On the occasion of Back to the Future, Part II Day, Popular Science highlights the DIY self-lacing shoe project undertaken by Blake Blevin. Back in 2010, Blevin tackled the challenge of creating the self-lacing shoe technology teased in Back to the Future II, creating a prototype that quickly went viral. It turns out that power laces could have uses beyond simple novelty, particularly for those with limited mobility in their hands.
Blevin’s Kickstarter to turn her prototype into a consumer product was successful, and Power Laces was born. The first wave of products is now ready to be shipped out for beta testing, but it will be at least a year before Blevin and her team can use the feedback they receive to tweak and improve the hardware to release a final, more affordable consumer version (beta test units are limited, made to order and run about $250). In the meantime, why not try your hand at making your own? Blevin posted instructions for creating the same type of prototype she made five years ago. Though it’s admittedly “less ‘Practical’ than ‘Proof of Concept’,” it’s a chance to try working with an Arduino microcontroller — and if you’re a rank amateur, be encouraged by the fact that this was Blevin’s first experience with Arduino, too.