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Nike’s hands-free trainer eases accessibility issues, improved reading experiences for neurodiverse students and US restaurants look to a brighter future.

Nike’s hinged trainers let wearers go hands-free

Nike Go FlyEase, US

US – Nike is launching its first hands-free shoe, the Nike Go FlyEase, in a bid to create a more accessible product for wearers.

While the brand has been experimenting with adaptive footwear in recent years as part of its FlyEase department, the Nike Go FlyEase is the first shoe that can be slipped on completely hands-free. The design features a ‘bi-stable hinge’ that enables the shoe to be secure in both open and closed states. Wearers remove the shoes by putting pressure on the kickstand heel on the opposite foot – a design cue that mimics the action many people subconsciously perform while removing their shoes.

When designing the shoes, Nike initially spoke to people with disabilities to discern their footwear needs, but later realised that the technology can support a variety of people – from pregnant women to anyone who wants a more seamless experience with their footwear.

In a similar vein, we previously identified how Juniper Unlimited is tapping in to the adaptive apparel sector through its disability-inclusive fashion marketplace.

Phygital Lego bricks for Gen Alpha musicians

 Lego Vidiyo by The Lego Group and Universal Music Group  Lego Vidiyo by The Lego Group and Universal Music Group
 Lego Vidiyo by The Lego Group and Universal Music Group  Lego Vidiyo by The Lego Group and Universal Music Group

Global – Lego Group and Universal Music Group are joining forces to launch a phygital music video platform geared towards children aged 7 to 10 years.

Known as Lego Vidiyo, young creatives can record and star in their own short-form music videos that combine Lego builds with songs provided by Universal Music. Using augmented reality technology and Lego’s System in Play, children build characters using AR-enabled Lego blocks named BeatBits.

Using a supporting parent-approved app, they can bring the BeatBits to life to act as background characters in their content. The BeatBits can also unlock digital features ranging from sound effects like DJ scratches to video filters like X-ray vision. ‘We know children are always chasing new ways to experiment creatively, and Lego Vidiyo is here to help all kids with a passion for music unleash their creativity through Lego building and music video production,’ says Julia Goldin chief marketing officer at the Lego Group.

With this product, Lego and Universal Music are demonstrating how to create Programmable Realities for children, merging physical and digital realms to bring play and creativity to life.

LEO is an e-reading platform removing dyslexia barriers

UK – LEO is a dyslexia-friendly e-reader aiming to break through access barriers for creative students.

The free platform aims to transform the ways that neurodiverse students learn by allowing its users to customise the text size, colour and spacing in e-books. People can also watch or listen to books read aloud by key design industry figures, as an alternative to text-based reading. Launching with ‘How to do better creative work’ by Steve Harrison, LEO also aims to introduce a library of its own titles for use in creative higher education.

‘On the surface, the advertising and digital industries are set up for people with dyslexia to thrive because they rely on divergent thinking to ensure that the products they are selling are noticed,’ explains Kat Pegler, co-founder of LEO. ‘However, each year, students with dyslexia looking to break into the industry are being put at a disadvantage that is blocking their entry – the reading lists that accompany the courses they take.’

By enabling alternative ways of accessing information, LEO is using inclusive technology to enhance everyday living and bolster new opportunities for differently abled people.


Stat: Covid-19’s devastating impact on US eateries

Alison Roman Alison Roman

America’s National Restaurant Association annual State of the Restaurant Industry Report for 2021 details the effect of the pandemic on the US restaurant industry.

By December 2020, 110,000 eating and drinking places in the US were closed for the long term or for good. With the vast number of closures, the US restaurant industry missed its total projected sales target in 2020 by 26%. The report predicts that the industry will perform better in 2021, with the association forecasting double-digit growth (10.2%) by the end of this year, but says ‘it will barely be enough to recover the ground lost during the pandemic’.

Owing to Covid-19 lockdowns and social distancing, many locations have been left without trade. One way restaurants can adapt is by looking at how the Asian market has changed its dining model by using ghost kitchens to deliver convenience.

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