May 19, 2020

Nike makes good on Back to the Future II promise of self-lacing shoes

corporate social responsibility
back to the future
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2 min
Nike makes good on Back to the Future II promise of self-lacing shoes

Back to the Future II presented a robust vision of the year 2015, and 30 years later we’ve arrived at the future with mixed results—holograms and video chat are here, but we’re still waiting on our flying cars and hoverboards. One of the more memorable and innovative pieces of product placement in the movie was a pair of high-tech Nike sneakers with self-tightening “power laces”—and now those are becoming a reality. Today, on the day that Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled to in Back to the Future II, Nike announced that it is officially bringing its iconic fictional shoe design to life.

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Nike announced the launch of its NIKE MAG shoes on its website, describing its original objective of partnering with the movie to design “sneakers that would suit the inhabitants of the advanced era.” The resulting modern Nike Mag design uses smart digital technology to sense and respond to wearer motion. The power laces are now reality.

“We started creating something for fiction and we turned it into fact, inventing a new technology that will benefit all athletes,” said Nike Inc. President and CEO Mark Parker in a press release from Nike. “By imagining the future, we create it. Product that comes alive, with on-demand comfort and support when you need, product that senses you and adapts to you is right around the corner.”

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But Nike understands the value of a limited edition product, and isn’t making its Nike Mag too easily available to just everyone. The very first pair manufactured was given—as it should be—to Michael J. Fox today. Additional pairs will be auctioned off with proceeds going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation to support research for Parkinson’s Disease. It’s a smart way for Nike to tie some corporate social responsibility values into this golden cross-promotional opportunity. Details on the auction will be released through Nike News and the @Nike Twitter page in spring 2016.


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Jun 21, 2021

How AWS helps NASCAR delight its fans

3 min
Customer obsession and working backwards from the customer is a mantra of Amazon Web Services (AWS), epitomizing its partnership with NASCAR

AWS needs no introduction to readers of Technology Magazine but we rarely get an opportunity to look closely at how it serves the sports sector. All major sports draw in a huge supporter base that they want to nurture and support. Technology is the key to every major sports organization and enabling this is the driving force for AWS, says Matt Hurst, Head of Global Sports Marketing and Communications for AWS. “In sports, as in every industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence and high performance computing are helping to usher in the next wave of technical sports innovation.”

AWS approaches sports in three principal areas. “The first is unlocking data’s potential: leagues and teams hold vast amounts of data and AWS is enabling them to analyze that data at scale and make better, more informed decisions. The second is engaging and delighting fans: with AWS fans are getting deeper insights through visually compelling on-screen graphics and interactive Second Screen experiences. And the third is rapidly improving sports performance: leagues and teams are using AWS to innovate like never before.”

Among the many global brands that partner with AWS are Germany's Bundesliga, the NFL, F1, the NHL, the PGA Tour and of course NASCAR. NASCAR has worked with AWS on its digital transformation (migrating it's 18 petabyte video archive containing 70 years of historical footage to AWS), to optimize its cloud data center operations and to enable its global brand expansion. AWS Media Services powers the NASCAR Drive mobile app, delivering broadcast-quality content for more than 80 million fans worldwide. The platform, including AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaStore, helps NASCAR provide fans instant access to the driver’s view of the race track during races, augmented by audio and a continually updated leaderboard. “And NASCAR will use our flagship machine learning service Amazon SageMaker to train deep learning models to enhance metadata and video analytics.”

Using AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning, NASCAR aims to deliver even more fan experiences that they'd never have anticipated. “Just imagine a race between Dale Earnhardt Sr and Dale Jr at Talladega! There's a bright future, and we're looking forward to working with NASCAR, helping them tap into AWS technology to continue to digitally transform, innovate and create even more fan experiences.”

Just as AWS is helping NASCAR bridge that historical gap between the legacy architecture and new technology, more customers are using AWS for machine learning than any other provider. As an example, who would have thought five years ago that NFL would be using  ML to predict and prevent injury to its players? Since 2017, the league has utilized AWS as its official cloud and ML provider for the NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS) platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field. “One of the most potentially revolutionary components of the NFL-AWS partnership,” says Matt Hurst, “is the development of the 'Digital Athlete,' a computer simulation model that can be used to replicate infinite scenarios within the game environment—including variations by position and environmental factors, emphasizing the league's commitment to player safety.”

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