Date
July 9, 2020
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The new Nike AerowSculpt of the Nike Flight football design took eight years, 1,700 lab hours, and 68 unique iterations, resulting in a ball 30 percent more accurate as compared with its predecessor.

A football is basically an air-inflated sphere. This simple object has been in constant development since 476 BC and has been altered to many and varied sports, the most popular of which is football (soccer if you’re from the USA or Canada). The Nike Flight is at the end of these thousands of years old developments.

Why Nike Flight? To reduce ball flight wobble and thus improve its accuracy.

Every football has some unpredictable movement in flight due to aerodynamic. Nike has spent nearly a decade to solve the problem, resulting in the Nike Flight, one of the most accurate footballs to date.

The ball will be used in the next 2020/21 Premier League season.

Nike Flight reduces ball flight wobble and improves its accuracy

The mind behind Nike Flight – Nike Innovation Equipment Lab

When Kieran Ronan, Nike senior director for global equipment in soccer and the team at the Nike Innovation Equipment Lab started down the Nike Flight project, the goal was to achieve the most consistent football to date, in terms of feel, touch, and flight.

The Nike Innovation Equipment Lab delivers proven scientific insights that help drive performance innovations across the Nike brand. The lab insights come from a variety of disciplines including biomechanics, physiology, biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, math, kinesiology, and systems science.

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Nike Flight - in use
Nike has spent nearly a decade to solve unpredictable movement in flight due to aerodynamic, resulting in the Nike Flight, one of the most accurate footballs to date

Materials & Techniques – Nike AerowSculp

The Nike Flight is composed of 37% synthetic leather, 33% rubber, 20% polyester, and 10% cotton.

To reduce wobble and create a more predictable and consistent flight, the Nike Equipment Innovation Lab introduced Nike AerowSculpt, an aerodynamic technology engineered to promotes air movement around the ball rather than gripping its surface.

An additional design element, Nike All Conditions Control (ACC) 3D ink helps ensure optimal grip in wet or dry conditions. 

The Nike Flight ball uses the 3D ink to strategically print “micro flaps” along Nike AerowSculpt, dragging off of aerospace principles and further optimizing aerodynamic stability.

Nike Flight - AerowSculpt tech closeup

Style & Aesthetics – Clean high-tech

As mentioned, the New Nike Flight incorporates Nike’s new patented AerowSculpt technology, which sees molded grooves across its surface, similar to the dimples on a golf ball.

The white color creates another resemblance to the golf ball. Black and metallic gold colors complete the ball’s clean, sophisticated, and high-tech aesthetics.

Nike Flight - overview
The Nike Flight is composed of 37% synthetic leather, 33% rubber, 20% polyester, and 10% cotton

Design Memento – Innovation is everywhere

When applied to design, data science has the potential to continue to benefit sports. With advancements and innovations happening all the time, the most exciting breakthrough in sports could be just around the corner, disguised in such a common object as a football.

Nike Flight - prototypes
Nike’s football design took eight years, 1,700 lab hours, and 68 unique iterations, resulting in a ball 30 percent more accurate as compared with its predecessor

The writer’s comment – An innovation with potential

Innovation exists in all forms, from AI development to simple objects. All of which are exiting and withholding potentially to influence entire sectors of society.

There are more than 265 million football players in the world, and even the smallest innovation in its most important object can have very significant experience improvements to these players. It isn’t hard to say that the Nike Flight is a game-changing football.

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Nike Flight - aerodynamics test
Nike Equipment Innovation Lab introduced Nike AerowSculpt to the design of the Nike Flight Football, an aerodynamic technology engineered to promotes air movement around the ball rather than gripping its surface