How Boa is transforming the way we wear our gear and boosting athletic performance in the process
“Boa can fundamentally do things that traditional laces cannot,” explains Daniel Feeney, a biomechanics research engineer at Boa Technology.
Since its inception in 2001, Boa has been built upon the premise that its revolutionary Boa Fit System, which enables athletes the ability to “dial in” to their boots, shoes, helmets, and other performance products, will revolutionize the way athletes interact with, and are supported by, their gear.
Now, 19 years later, the company is pushing boundaries and utilizing biomechanics to innovate and illustrate the positive impact its technology has on athletic performance.
“Is it durable?”
Since day one, this question has been a core tenant of Boa’s philosophy. But three years ago, the company decided to make a shift in its focus from “is it durable?” to “is it durable, and can it have an impact on human performance?”
To embrace their new direction, Boa built a 2,700 square foot Performance Fit Lab, located in their global headquarters in Denver, and partnered with the University of Denver to quantify the impact of their fit solutions on human performance.
“If you look at examples like the New Balance 1500, New Balance Hierro, Yonex Boa infinity cushion, and the Saucony Switchback V2, you will see that we have removed laces from the top of the foot and used articulating panels to conform to a wider variety of foot shapes,” says Feeney.
“There are at least two benefits of this strategy: first, preliminary lab data shows that we can improve agility and speed (side-to-side) stability and velocity due to increased proprioception (your body’s ability to know where it is in space) because we are allowing more of the shoe to contact the foot.
“Second, we can use a mechanical advantage to close over a flatter portion of the foot (relative to the arch), which means an athlete can get a better fit with less force.”
He adds, “Lastly, Boa parts are extremely low friction, so after an athlete dials into their fit, the lace tensions will even out based on the athlete’s foot morphology, allowing for a more uniform fit.”
While the Fit System got its start as a method of convenience-allowing snowboarders to effortlessly close their boots via dial, it is now being utilized by over 300 brand partners around the world across multiple sports.
“Boa works with so many different sports in so many different areas, we wanted to think of overarching themes that relate to our customers in every area: endurance and health; speed and agility; and power and precision.” Feeney continues, “One arm of the lab is focused on developing and conducting tests on products and figuring out how we can improve each theme, in each area.”
The Fit Lab’s first validation paper, published by DU and centered around speed and agility in trail running and court sports, will make its debut in the first quarter of 2020, even as the Fit Lab team launches its second validation paper, this time honing in on endurance and health.
As Feeney notes, “These papers are a launching point where we can put numbers to improvements we have seen. We already know the results, but we want to get them totally buttoned up.”
Boa’s innovative design has been a game-changer for athletes across the board, empowering them to hit the slopes, the courts, the green, the streets, or the trails with improved support, comfort, and precision.