Hate him or love him, LeBron James has already left his mark on the world. One such place in which “the kid from Akon’s” presence can be felt is at Nike’s World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., which recently unveiled the LeBron James Innovation Center.
Thanks to the once-in-a-lifetime-athlete that he is, James has acted as the muse for handfuls of the Swoosh’s breakthroughs over the last 18 years (basketball-specific Max Air debuted on the Nike LeBron 7 in 2009, for example). Therefore, naming the epicenter of its sports-research and future-considering capabilities was an obvious decision for NIKE, Inc.
According to VP of the Nike Explore Team Sports Research Lab, Matthew Nurse, PhD, the 84,000 square feet-consisting space was purpose-built through the lens of innovation. Placing it in the literal center of the company’s Pacific Northwestern global headquarters was also an intentional decision, as it aims to remind employees and spectators alike that innovation – in particular as it relates to athletes’ potential – is at the core of Nike’s endeavors.
Currently, the center houses the world’s largest motion-capture installation (400 cameras). When paired with the 97 force plates, body-mapping equipment, full-size basketball court and other components, the aforementioned tools enable Nike to build well-informed, game-changing products and experiences across all athletic fields.
“Understanding more types of bodies, more genders, more backgrounds and different ability levels helps us create better and more specific product,” said VP of Footwear Innovation, Kathy Gomez. As such, the research center might be simultaneously hosting break-dancers and futsal squads in their facilities, gathering information that might improve cushioning for basketball. And perhaps this is the greatest advantage that the LeBron James Innovation Center offers: direct line of communication between research and innovation teams and product designers. Prototyping is one process that largely benefits from the operational layout enabled by the latest iteration of the Swoosh’s research spaces.
For James, it’s an honor to have such an important facility on Nike’s Oregon-based campus named after him: “[It] feels very fitting. because I’m always trying to figure out ways to continue to innovate…to break the timeline of what they say is your prime.”
Enjoy snapshots of the LeBron James Innovation Center (which uses 100% renewable electricity, alongside other sustainable initiatives) here below, and head over to the lebronjamesinnovationcenter.nike.com microsite right now for a closer look at what went into the building.
Images: Nike News