With the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio getting underway this weekend, Nike is (unsurprisingly) gearing up for another Olympic year to show off their latest sport-related innovations. While previous years have seen everything from the introduction of new materials to new colorways designed to pop off your TV screen, this year is a little different.
Working in partnership with Zeiss to design the best shades for competitive runners, the designers developed and manufactured a new one-piece shield lens and frame design from a custom mold that fused the lens and frame components into a single part. This mold was refined using ultra-precise machinery with diamond-polishing technology to polish the complex lens shape down to the nanometer. According to Nike, the design required an entirely new material mix and method of creation — because a single-body glass had never been made before and the nylon mix traditionally used for eyewear wouldn’t suffice.
Among other challenges of designing eyewear for competitive runners include the need for a responsive design that adapts to sweat, flexible arms that conform to the shape of a wearer’s face for accurate stability and fit during rigorous motion, ventilation with auto-adjusting nose pad for eliminating fog and finally, all of this while increasing the lens coverage as much as possible to prevent stress-causing light leaks that prevent the runner from staying relaxed and focused over long distances.
According to Nike, the design team accelerated a potentially five-year process into approximately 20 months using 3D printing to perfect each individual feature of the tendon-inspired design before compiling all the features into a single piece. Essentially, these aren’t your average pair of gas station sunglasses; a single pair will set you back a steep $1,200.