Omni-Fuse is a futuristic footwear concept that constantly adapts to changing environments. The prefix, “Omni”, has a Latin origin that means “all”, and to “Fuse” is to blend and form a single entity. This is a new category for barefoot and minimalist runners who want to explore new terrains.
VIBRAM, United States
Team Lead: Christopher Favreau
Design: Robert Lee
Hankook Tire Co., Ltd, South Korea
Team Lead: Sung Hee Youn
The name Omni-Fuse fits its self-adapting footwear concept that utilises innovative components for light hiking and trail adventures. The outsole is made with a high performance rubber compound known as Megagrip that was specifically created for traction and grip on wet and dry terrains. Parts of the concept have been made to glow, partly to highlight important performance aspects of the footwear and partly to illuminate the shoe, and hence the runner, during evening runs. The upper body of the footwear is created to be ergonomic and functional without compromising on style.
Omni-Fuse contains over six technological features that make it well suited for uneven and unexpected terrains. The sole design includes many different aspects. The dome-shaped lugs are built for multi-directional traction. Vibram’s heritage Carrarmato lugs (Carrarmato means “tank” in Italian) also help with overall traction. The Tri-Grip 360° lug system is a technological feature which is made up of three dome lugs that are mounted on a rotating base, allowing the user to pivot and grip on angled terrains.
The two main dome lugs on the lateral forefoot are moulded with a gridded pattern to increase the grip. The sharp aggressive toe bumper acts as a protective cover while the biting teeth lugs on the toe help increase vertical traction at the same time. Running down the centre of the sole through the forefoot is an ultra strong carbon fibre stabiliser, which helps with balance and protects the foot from uneven ground contact. The “V” contoured lugs are spread throughout the sole. These lugs follow the contour of the heel, which gives the user a better minimalistic feel.
On the upper side of the sole, in the heel crash zone, is a dome-shaped rebound cushion that has been specially formulated. When the user’s heel strikes, the force is distributed to the dome and then bounced back for that extra rebound energy. The sole itself is moulded with negative and positive dimples for aerodynamic speed, inspired by speed suits and golf balls. The Lycra tongue helps with lock-in support while providing flex and breathability and the heel portion would be exposed and slightly lifted off the dome cushion.
The foot sits in the shoe with the centre of gravity leaning toward the ball of the foot that is leaning forward. This was directly inspired by sprinting spikes. It is more forefoot-focused to provide speed like that of a cat’s paw. On the lateral-upper side, a reflective patch shines bright for night runs to give others better visibility of the runner. It is strategically placed on the outermost lateral side of the foot since that zone is usually the main focal point of a passing runner. Within the reflective patch, interweaving bright rubber laces go through the reflective patch, then up to the top of the foot going through the clear “nose” attached below the tongue. It then continuously flows through to the medial inside the foot to give it a tight lock-down.
The whole upper foot frame system comprises a lightweight EVA used for cushioning that has great flex rebound factors. In the flex areas towards the toe, the toe bumper wraps up and covers the big toe zone while leaving the other toe areas slightly open. The flex zone on the upper is usually the first area to wear out because of the amount of stress that it constantly receives. In addition, because this concept utilises a lot of open space designs, the only flexing that would occur is the natural flexing of your foot.
The majority of the upper is very minimal and great for breathability. The main features of this concept are the “Tri-Grip 360°” lug system which would ideally utilise a miniature titanium bearing that is fused with the rubber in a mechanical sense. Allowing the user to pivot the shoe while still maintaining his or her momentum would essentially decrease the stress on the body and allow to the user to keep the pace going. The dome lugs are also unique in the sense that they provide “Omni-directional” traction no matter where or what the terrain is.
The main premise of this unique direction and design is based on the idea that the user can come home, slip into the Omni-Fuse and just go. The user no longer has to adjust, tie laces, or clean the lugs and debris off the sole constantly, which would be a huge benefit, especially in the hiking terrains. This is the new footwear for the trail and light-hiking world.