Around here, we love our sneakers. Why else would we put them on display like the fine art we know they are? It’s nice to know that our friends over at The Swoosh still feel the same, or at least, their new cleaning and restoration robot, B.I.L.L. does.
Today Nike unveiled their Bot Initiated Longevity Lab (B.I.L.L.), “a robot-augmented system designed to clean and repair shoes with selected customizations.” According to Nike, the primary idea behind the experiment is to extend the life of the sneakrs you love, while simultaneously reducing Nike’s impact on the planet and moving the company towards a more circular future. As sneakerheads, we can see right through this and call it what it is: Nike just likes doing cool sh*t, and that’s a huge part of what makes us love them.
Nike’s Sustainability Lead of Nike NXT, Noah Murphy-Reinhertz explains, “The thing is, maintaining old product is deeply personal. People will go to great lengths to care for their favorite shoes. Repairing a product is a way to extend our memory with a product. We see B.I.L.L. as a tool for being able to do that. Robots can do things that are tough to do by hand, but when we used robotics as part of a recycling technology, we still want the service to be personal.”
B.I.L.L. is currently capable of extending the life of Air Force 1s, Air Jordan 1s, Space Hippie 01s, and Nike Dunks, with more silhouettes planned for the future. The system uses a combination of advanced robotics, good old fashioned elbow grease, water-based cleaning products, and recycled polyester patches, Once the shoe is loaded onto the robot, a 3D digital model of the shoe is created. This is how areas of the upper, sidewall, and outsole are identified for cleaning and/or repair. Yes, you read that right, even B.I.L.L. is not going to clean the insides of your stinky sneakers. However, once you’ve chosen patches needed for the upper, Nike store employees add new liners and laces (all of which are made of recycled materials) to add the final touches on your refurbished kicks.
The whole process takes B.I.L.L. about 45 minutes to rework a Nike Air Force 1 and as of now, you can get it done for free if you head to Nike Town in London.