Motorized skates put a new spin on getting from point A to B.
FIRST CAME ROLLER skates, then came the Segway and then Heelys—the wheeled sneakers known currently as the scourge of mall security guards across the globe. Now, in modern man’s never-ending quest to do away with that pesky chore called walking, comes SpinKiX— motorized skates that promise to whiz wearers to their destination at speeds of up to 10 miles per hour.
Scheduled to roll out next month, the battery-powered skates are controlled by a hand-held remote and can carry up to 180 pounds in weight. They can be strapped onto almost any pair of sneakers or flats, but don’t plan on making any long commutes: The battery lasts for only about three miles. That’s why SpinKiX creator and designer Peter Treadway surmises the ideal environment for his invention would be a college campus. “Kids have been rolling around on the wheeled shoes for a while now, and they’re starting to grow up—and this is an opportunity to grow with them,” he explains.
Treadway developed the wheeled wonders at the design consultancy firm where he works in Los Angeles. “It really started making sense here because I was trying to use the public transportation system, and it’s really spread out. There wasn’t anything solving the problem of how to get from your house to the train station,” he notes. The hardest part of designing the skates was striking a balance between form and function, says Treadway, who has been working on the prototype for five years. “The early versions were kind of clunky and looked very industrial. Along the way, I’ve had to build a few prototypes that really convey the idea as well as the functionality.”
The final product seems to have hit the mark: Treadway posted an appeal for money to manufacture the skates on project-funding website Kickstarter and met his $25,000 goal within five days. “Getting there on a shoestring budget—no pun intended—was really hard to do,” he notes. Currently, he’s raised more than $58,000, and with additional orders rolling in from overseas distributors, he anticipates making far more than his original 1,000 pair estimate.
The ultimate success of Treadway’s design is up to consumers, but with a $649 price tag, the skates probably won’t pick up mass appeal. Not to mention, safety concerns could prevent less adventurous shoppers from strapping on a pair. To compensate, Treadway notes that he scaled back the skates’ top speed. “We had some versions that went faster, but interestingly enough, we’ve kind of had to engineer it down for safety reasons.” He also added stoppers— which speed demons will be happy to learn are removable. But Treadway cautions: “You’re going to have to compensate for irregularities on the road.” —Audrey Goodson