Want to recapture the days when roller skates were considered by some as a primary mode of transportation, but find moving your legs to be a pain in the ass? If so, you might want to check out “RocketSkates.”
While no actual rockets are involved (it’s only the early part of the 21st century, you know), these newest incarnations of the classic roller skates have motors and reach 12 mph. Skaters control their speed by tilting backward or forward, and the wheeled wonders wirelessly communicate with each other to ensure they do not cause the skater to perform unwanted motorized splits.
But the momentum of RocketSkates isn’t just measured by sidewalk speed. The company that makes the footwear, Los Angeles-based Acton, launched a Kickstarter campaign today with a funding goal of $50,000. By midafternoon, the campaign exceeded that goal, set new stretch goals of $100,000 and $200,000, and undoubtedly have been doing RocketSkate-propelled loop-de-loops in some Californian parking lot.
Of course, motorized skates are like motorized bicycles. Isn’t the idea to have some fun while exercising?
“Who doesn’t want to have fun?” the company’s chief technical officer and founder, Peter Treadway, rhetorically asked VentureBeat. “What we’re trying to do is make a really fun product that made you forget to use your car last week,” he said, after noting that he is a “car guy.”
“We don’t expect people to stop [regular] skating. But if you’re in a car, making these wasteful stops in a 4,000 pound vehicle, here’s a way to engage with the outdoors” and still run, or cruise through, at least some of your errands.
The current incarnation, which has two hub motors in each three-wheeled skate, an onboard microprocessor, and a lithium-ion battery pack that can last up to 90 minutes, has not emerged overnight.
“We’ve been building prototypes, 50 or 60 of them,” Treadway told us. Following earlier, similarly successful Kickstarter campaigns, Acton made an unspecified number of the impossible-to-pronounce spnKiX motorized skates — which required a wireless remote — as well as a motorized scooter.
The newest Acton R RocketSkates, the company points out, are “remote-free” because of the inter-skate wireless communication and the foot-control. They’re also intended to be light enough for walking into Starbucks, rather than having to slow-rev your motors while waiting for your latte.
Battery charges take three hours, and not including the discounts available to pledgers on Kickstarter, the retail prices for the three RocketSkater models is $500, $600, and $700.
Of course, no product these days, even skates, are real products without a smartphone app or a software development kit. The app tracks the skates’ performance and battery, enables the roller to keep in touch with other RocketSkaters, tracks routes and will even show the geometric patterns that the accompanying skates have rollered.
What’s next for this three-year-old company?
Treadway, whose formal background is in industrial design, would only allude to new kinds of “wearable transportation vehicles.”