Walking on Air (Pressure)

Welcome to All Sensors “Put the Pressure on Us” blog. This blog brings out pressure sensor aspects in a variety of applications inspired by headlines, consumer and industry requirements, market research, government activities, and you.

Walking on Air (Pressure)

Perhaps more accurately it’s walking with air pressure. Re-released five years ago in 2016, the Nike Air Pressure sneaker initially appeared in 1989. They have a built-in pressure chamber and come with a pump for the user to apply the desired amount of pressure to achieve improved custom fit, comfort and stability. Nike also offered two other models with the pump system. However, they were not the only sneaker maker to offer a pressure system. In fact, they weren’t the first.

Nike Air Pressure Sneakers Nike Air Pressure Sneakers Pump

Nike Air Pressure sneakers and their pump
Source: https://sneakerbardetroit.com/nike-air-pressure-retro-release-date/

Using the pump to apply pressure to Nike Air Pressure sneakers

Using the pump to apply pressure to Nike Air Pressure sneakers
Source: https://sneakerbardetroit.com/nike-air-pressure-retro-release-date/

Exhibited earlier in 1989, the Reebok PUMP (which stands for performance under maximum pressure) was the first sneaker to have a totally contained inflation mechanism. Pressure was applied by a built-in ball (pump) in the tongue and released by a valve on the back of the shoe.

The air bladders were actually manufactured by a medical supply company in Boston, MA and then shipped to Korea for assembly into the shoes. This meant testing the bladders for initial quality in the US and then testing again after assembly in Korea to make sure the bladders were not punctured during the sewing process.

How much pressure is created? While the amount of pressure each individual applies will vary, applying more than 80 mmHg (1.5 psi) exceeds the normal diastolic (the lower number) blood pressure level but it can be uncomfortable at half this pressure.

In use, the bladder was quilted to control the amount of air that could be pumped into different locations around the foot. This meant that less air was applied to flexing locations and more to areas where gaps exist between the foot and the shoe, like between the heal and the ankle. This avoids the foot sliding and improves stability, especially under strenuous situations in basketball.

Reebok has also incorporated the technology into other products such as tennis, running, golf and aerobics shoes. More recently, Reeebok announced that its Pump Omni Zone II basketball sneaker would be available once again beginning March 5 and in a different color on May 21.

The Reebok Pump’s built-in orange pump

The Reebok Pump’s built-in orange pump
Source: Reebok

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