Basketball shoes are in a weird spot right now. They went from being what dominated the marketplace and what brought most sneakerheads into the footwear world to becoming the most overlooked product. The market shifted from being about innovation and fresh takes to sneakers that are far simpler. Part of it is because of changing trends and part of it is just brands overthinking things. What the industry needs now is an Alpha, a new beginning. A revolution of what footwear is. To do this, we have to rethink what the future of the game is and how that will affect the final product. Basketball shoes need a new reason to exist.

With that in mind, we’ll take my experience as a designer to imagine what the best Nike basketball sneaker is going to look like in the year 2048, a full 30 years down the road. And it’s nothing like what’s on the market right now—not even the auto-lacing Nike Mag. Here’s why.

In the future, how an athlete wears, interacts, and experiences basketball shoes will be different. The entire process of footwear—from manufacturing and what it offers the player—will be revolutionized.

We already see a large increase of using data to make an athlete better. Right now, it’s tracked, studied, and then applied in the coming games. The game of the future is going to eliminate all that by giving instantaneous data to the athletes and coaches.

Thirty years from now basketball will likely be heavily influenced by Artificial Intelligence. The sport won’t become a bunch of robots running on the court, but AI will give athletes more tools to improve their game. To do this, the ball and the court will be enhanced with smart materials that track every movement and instantly implement that data back to the athlete.

By giving the players an intense level of in-game data to improve their performance, they can focus on where they need to be next. Imagine as a player, you and your gear knew what direction the ball was going to fall after a missed shot, giving you an immediate response before it has happened. That kind of intel would make the unpredictable, predictable. With the ball being the centerpiece of the data, it would be sending information to everything connected to it: the court, the hoop, the player, and, most importantly, the shoes. The game would become more intelligent, allowing a player to take their natural talent to peak levels.

So, how would all of this actually look in a sneaker?