Los Angeles designer Peter Treadway wanted to hop on the train one day but--this being L.A., where everything is a maddening car ride away--he would’ve had to walk a mile, or about 20 to 30 minutes, to reach the closest station. “It was too hard to use public transit at the spur of the moment, which seemed crazy to me,” he tells Co.Design. “There are all kinds of places that are super close to us, but because we don’t have time, we drive.”
Enter spnKiX, Treadway’s gee-whiz idea for remote-controlled electronic skates--yep, you read that right, remote-controlled electronic skates--designed to make it easy to navigate “your local environment efficiently,” he says. Strap them over yours shoes, and at the press of a button, they literally roll you to your destination, zooming along at up to 10 miles an hour. The ride is smooth as hell, to judge by the footage above. And unlike other, rather design-challenged mechanized skates, they look cool; from afar, they could nearly pass for moon boots (okay, moon boots with giant red wheels attached). Other folks have called them “Robo-Skates” and skates for “Sci-Fi Roller Diners.” We like to think of them as Segways for your feet.
Which is to suggest that they aren’t just the stuff of science fiction. Treadway (who has both undergrad and master’s degrees in industrial design, the former from RISD, the latter from Art Center) has raised more than $57,000 for spnKiX on Kickstarter with a month left in his campaign. He plans to start shipping the first models in March.
What has made spnKiX possible is the miniaturization of technologies found in smartphones, laptops, and radio-controlled cars. “Batteries are shrinking and becoming more powerful,” Treadway says. “Radio-controlled toys have seen motors become stronger and their wireless hardware shrink in size.” That has enabled Treadway to develop a small, eminently wearable package. Each pair of spnKiX houses motors in the wheels and removable battery packs in the fiber-reinforced nylon frame. Everything is controlled with a lightweight, handheld wireless remote.
“The whole idea behind spnKiX is to get people outside when they would normally be either in a car or in a chair at home,” Treadway says. “Where someone might not spend much time out of doors because they are either too busy or don’t have anything to do there, spnKiX are a cool, fashionable way to get them moving. It’s kinda like being a superhero… one with the powers of smooth ingress and egress.”
[Images courtesy of Peter Treadway]