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.

01

00

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.

Author

Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.