Adidas isn't shy about embracing technology. In fact, sometimes it takes that a little further than you might expect. Today, however, it's very much about genuine performance enhancement as we were invited down to a not-so-secret location in central London to look at its latest innovations in (to use the local parlance) football. Think you've got Premier League potential? Even if you don't, Adidas thinks its got a few tricks that might help you at least get a few steps nearer, so to speak. Jog past the break to find out what it's been working on.
Without doubt, the centerpiece on display is the firm's latest soccer boot, which at just 99 grams promises to give players an extra yard on the competition. Also, despite its lightweight build, there's miCoach Elite integration so it can relay a host of statistical data about your footwork back to a tablet or PC. A logical progression to the adizero f50 miCoach, the new boot is joined by a similarly sensor-laden smart ball, that comes with a dedicated app, providing even more info, such as speed, rotation, distance and direction. Not only is there more information to take away from the pitch, Adidas advises real-time data will mean at some point you can analyze and perfect your skills without having to wait until you head back into the clubhouse. This real-time nature also means we could see tablets accompanying managers on the bench, along with the oranges and tense expressions. Ideal for seeing what went wrong with that free kick, or perhaps which player might need bringing off stat.
Adidas had the new adizero shoe on a dramatic floating magnetic stand, to demonstrate how staggeringly light it is, at just 99 grams -- less than the weight of an iPhone. Made from a single layer of woven polyester mesh and polyurethane, it's designed to hold off the weather and claims to still be protective of the type of foot injuries that have been prevalent in the last few years. The company also shared that it had to redesign its manufacturing process in order to create the footwear, which is almost a third lighter than the previous F50. Despite the emphasis on light-and-thin design, there's still room for that Adidas' miCoach sensor. The smart ball, however, is an all new venture for the sports brand. As you can imagine, there are a host of motion sensors, and an internal setup that detects pressure, angle and even which foot you kicked it with. Twelve anchor points in total, held taught with kevlar loops, that sprout out from a sensor package. There's a power coil and charging stand too, so better make sure this is fully juiced before the big game. Football legend Zinedine Zidane was on hand to give it a few test shots, too, with the stats beamed to a large screen (representing the iPhone app) just seconds later.
There are other, less techy innovations in the works, too, such as a lightweight kit (shin pads included) that weighs not much over 600 grams in total. Given that Adidas was evasive about actually telling us the new showpiece-shoe's official name (beyond its adizero demarkation) we can safely say that you won't want to hold your breath for it to land in you local sports store. The same is likely true for the rest of the equipment on display, but the app and the smart ball do look a lot more ready for prime time. So with a large soccer tournament heading our way next year, and previous form, you never know.
The Adidas lab will be open to the public for the remainder of the weekend, at Victoria House, London.