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Nike opens Lebron James Innovation Center

Nike opens high-tech sports science lab

The Future. Nike has opened the doors to its LeBron James Innovation Center — a complex where scientists in physiology, biology, and psychology will study the fundamentals of sports. It plans to study not just pros but everyday athletes who make up the actual consumer base of Nike. Eventually, the company could collect so much data and test-run so many iterations of products that wearing Nike footwear or apparel may factually be deemed a competitive advantage.

Decoding LeBron
Welcome to the mecca of sports science.

  • The 750,000 square-foot LeBron James Innovation Center is located at the company’s main Beaverton campus.
  • There, the Nike Sport Research Lab (NSRL) can test every aspect of athletics to inform support for both pros and everyday players with product technology.
  • It has the largest motion-capture installation in the world — 400 cameras and 97 force panels that cover a track and turf playing field and a full-size basketball court.
  • The facility also has environment chambers where scientists can test how different products perform under different climates.

While Nike has a huge roster of pros that it hopes to test and mine data from, the company says that 85% of its testing will be reserved for everyday athletes. You can apply to be a Swoosh guinea pig here.

Dribble data
Nike VP of innovation Matt Nurse says that what makes the facility “exceptional” is that it’s surrounded by the world’s best designers and creatives, explaining that “there’s always a healthy tension and pushing of art and science, and when they come together is when the magic happens.”

Those aren’t just empty words: the facility is housed in the same area as the company’s “biomechanical researchers and computational designers.” Nike claims that with everyone working together, they’ll be able to churn out new product prototypes in under an hour….which can then be tested in the facility.

For LeBron, his name on the building is one of the biggest honors that Nike bestows. And why wouldn’t they? LeBron, one of the best living athletes, has been with the brand for almost 20 years, has multiple shoe lines, and has a lifetime contract with the company worth over $1 billion.