Self-Tightening Power Laces Shoes, Back From the Future

Inventor developing self-tightening shoes channels sci-fi classic.

September 19, 2010, 5:50 PM

Sept. 20, 2010 — -- Set in the not-so-far future of 2015, Michael J. Fox's time traveling adventure "Back to the Future 2" features some seriously cool futuristic gadgets -- perhaps none more sought after than the hoverboard.

But while the hoverboard may still be a few years off, another impressive invention straight from the Hollywood's future could be coming to a shoe store near you within months: the self-lacing Power Laces shoe.

Developed by amateur tinkerer Blake Bevin, the Power Laces Shoe (version 2.5) was inspired by the classic '80s movie and was created in less than five months, with no formal electronics training.

"I'm pretty much self-taught," Bevin, a 27-year-old hotel manager by day, told ABC News Sunday. "I use Google a lot. I've just always been into science. I've read a lot of books about it. I don't have a lot of formal education."

CLICK HERE to learn more about Bevin's Power Laces from her project on

The shoe uses small motors that pull the shoe laces tight at the touch of a small button on the side of the shoe.

Sci-fi lovers and "Back to the Future" fanboys may be clamoring for the shoe already, but Bevin said it was originally intended to help the elderly or disabled.

"I thought that something like that might be able to help people who can't tie shoes on their own," Bevin said.

To develop the shoe, Bevin started a project on, a website created "as a new way to fund creative ideas and ambitious endeavors" through donations, according to the website. Currently, 128 people have contributed to the Power Laces.

Bevin said she hopes to use the donations, right now at about one-fourth of her goal, to hire a couple engineers to help her develop the final version of the Power Laces.

That version will feature a special heel censor to trigger the tightening, meaning the wearer can do it with no hands.

Nike's 'Automatic Lacing System' Patent

Bevin's invention has raised eyebrows for some in the tech community as it seems to rival a patent filed by Nike in April 2009 for what it called an "Automatic Lacing System."

That system similarly features a button on the side of the shoe and an internal motor system to tighten the laces of the shoe.

The design picture accompanying the Nike patent also reveals the shoe's undeniably '80s style. (Fun Fact: The shoes Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly rocks in "Back to the Future 2"? Nike Air 2015 Power Laces.)

But Bevin, who holds no patents yet and said she only plans to file for one once she gets enough funding to develop the hands-free version of her shoe, does not believe the two designs overlap.

"There are some similarities [in the current version], because I'm pretty limited in what I can do with the basic equipment I have. But the final version will be a completely different mechanism," Bevin said. "I really don't think there's going to be any patent dispute or anything like that."

Bevin said she has not been contacted by anyone at Nike, or any other shoe company for that matter, about interest in her shoe.

Though she's never done a major project like this before, Bevin said she is known around her home for what she called McGyverisms -- getting broken things to work using whatever means necessary.

That style of invention by necessity has clearly followed into her shoe's development -- there's a little bit of duct tape holding things together in the 2.5 version.

Bevin promises duct tape will not be involved, however, in the final shoe design.

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