Android app update turns Nike’s self-lacing shoes into clodhoppers

22 Feb 2019

The Nike Adapt BB shoe and Adapt companion app. Image: Nike

This week in IoT, Nike showed us what can go wrong when making objects ‘smart’, as demonstrated by its latest self-lacing shoes.

Earlier this week in the internet of things (IoT) space, ahead of Mobile World Congress, Dublin tech firm Cubic Telecom revealed that it is collaborating with Microsoft as well as Volkswagen to develop the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform (MCVP).

Volkswagen is using Azure and MCVP for its Volkswagen Automotive Cloud, and Cubic on Azure for the connectivity solution. “We welcome the ecosystem coming together to provide a seamless solution for customers,” said Heiko Huettel of Volkswagen Automotive Cloud.

Nike Android app update bricks firmware for self-lacing shoes

Sportswear manufacturer Nike was running for the hills after it confirmed an update for its companion Android app for its latest self-lacing shoes was not working right. According to Ars Technica, the Nike Adapt app allows an owner of its Adapt BB shoes to activate the self-lacing feature as well as customise the lights and see how charged their shoes are (yes, that’s right).

Following the latest update, Android users began reporting in large numbers that they were having trouble pairing the shoes with the app, while some said they couldn’t pair at all.

One customer review cited by Ars Technica highlights the absurdity of it all. “App will only sync with left shoe and then fails every time,” a customer said. “Also, app says left shoe is already connected to another device whenever I try to reinstall and start over.”

Nike has since issued a statement saying: “We are aware of the issue and are actively working on a solution.”

5G operators will rely on 4G/LTE networks for years to come

New research claims that even when 5G rolls out across much of the world, many mobile operators and IoT networks will be reliant on 4G/LTE for years to come.

According to the latest survey on global development of LTE networks and services this month by Hadden Telecoms, 729 operators in 220 countries or territories have commercially launched 4G services delivered on LTE or LTE Advanced networks.

Operators are investing heavily in LTE and LTE Advanced/LTE Advanced Pro (4.5G) technologies as the global de facto platform for delivering mobile broadband services. This includes 79 operators having commercially launched narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) networks in 45 countries.

“Many operators agree they will continue to improve their 4G networks alongside 5G investments as they believe 4G will remain the primary mobile communication network technology for a long time still,” said Alan Hadden, director of Hadden Telecoms.

Start-up behind car digital assistant Chris secures €7m funding

German Autolabs, the Berlin-based start-up behind Chris, an artificially intelligent (AI), voice-enabled digital assistant for in-car usage, announced additional funding of €7m. The new capital will allow German Autolabs to retrofit consumer products for the automotive aftermarket, and increase research and development of its voice AI cloud platform, as well as fleet operators and insurance services.

“With the growing success of voice AI, the need for vertical solutions in the automotive sector will soar,” said Holger G Weiss, co-founder and CEO of German Autolabs.

“Key differentiators in this field are data safety, domain knowledge and customer touchpoints. This is not competitive to the horizontal players such as Amazon or Google – it’s the complementary vertical approach.”

Tech giants to see smartwatch market share fall significantly

While Juniper Research predicts that smartwatch shipments are to reach 166m in 2023, the four biggest vendors – Apple, Samsung, Fitbit and Fossil – will see their market share fall to 47pc by this time, down from an estimated 58pc in 2018. The research group puts this down to the growth of smaller players, including Garmin, Huami and Huawei.

The rise of smaller players is linked to the rapid expansion of the Chinese market offering lower-priced smartwatches, with south-east Asia and China having now overtaken North America as the most dominant market, with more than 24m smartwatches shipped in 2018 against 19.5m for North America.

The report also claimed that an intensified focus on healthcare integration will contribute to the increase of smartwatch shipments over the next few years. Juniper forecasts that Apple and Withings will lead the way in terms of healthcare integration, followed by Fitbit and Garmin.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic