Eager to polish her green credentials by making the shoes last as long as possible, Nike has created the Bot Initiated Longevity Lab, also known as BILL.
BILL (below) is a huge brush-laden contraption designed to clean your Nike shoes so they look as good as new.
This month, BILL lives in Nike’s flagship store in central London, offering customers the opportunity to fix their Nike shoes for free. The service even includes any minor repairs that need to be done, although it appears that human staff, rather than BILL, will be doing them.
However, take note. bill not will handle any Nike shoes. Currently, the robot only welcomes Air Force 1s, Air Jordan 1s, Space Hippie 01s, and Nike Dunks.
So how does BILL work his magic? Well, according to Nike, after loading a shoe into the robot, BILL first creates a 3D digital model to highlight specific cleaning areas on the upper, sidewalls, and outsole of the shoe.
Buyers can also manually select wear areas on the upper of the shoe to indicate what they would like repaired.
Once BILL has deployed its various brushes, fabrics, and other tools to tend to the shoe’s needs — a process that apparently takes around 45 minutes — Nike staff will take a moment to add new linings and laces made from recycled materials. And, with those repairs presumably taken care of, too, you should be good to go.
“The thing is, keeping the old product is deeply personal,” said Nike executive Noah Murphy-Reinhertz in a statement. “People will go to great lengths to take care of their favorite shoes. Repairing a product is a way to expand our memory with a product. We see BILL as a tool to be able to do that. Robots can do things that are difficult to do by hand, but when we use robotics as part of a recycling technology, we still want the service to be personal.”
Murphy-Reinhertz said the BILL deployment is a testing exercise that is expected to provide Nike with some useful insights for its future involvement in sustainable services.
BILL complements the company’s existing green service, such as Nike Refurbished, which extends the life of eligible products by refurbishing gently worn and slightly imperfect sneakers, and Nike Recycling and Donation, which asks customers to turn in their old gear Nike sneakers so that parts of it can be reused in some way.