When I picked up the postcard ad for Rollkers at CES, I assumed they were a sort of electric-powered toy, roller skating's answer to the growth of fast, exhilarating electric skateboards like the ZBoard 2. In learning more about them, however, I realized they have a different purpose entirely.
Like the Rocketskates we looked at last year, Rollkers strap-on under shoes are designed more as a small form of electric mobility, not so much as a high-powered toy. Sort of like a pedelec bike for the feet, Rollkers add motor power to your everyday stride, quickening your pace to up to 7 mph (11 km/h), a bit lower than the Rocketskates' 12 mph (19 km/h). According to the company, Rollkers don't require any training and offer self-balancing stability – all you have to do is walk forward to engage the motor.
After daydreaming about having airport-style moving walkways strewn all over cities, Rollkers SAS founder Paul Chavand came to and realized that the vision was incredibly unlikely. So instead of working on adding motor power everywhere you might possibly walk, he figured out that he could mimic the experience by strapping it to your feet. Chavand imagines Rollkers as a lighter, more agile alternative to more traditional transportation means such as bicycles and scooters. The compact skates attach around your regular shoes and are easy to transport and store when not in use.
Rollkers is still finalizing its design, so it hasn't released all the specs. It does say that the mobility accessories are powered by 1,000-mAh lithium-polymer batteries that offer up to two hours of run time. Each skate features a small electric motor and four oversized wheels designed to handle rough surfaces. The electronic stabilization system keeps you on your feet and moving forward, while the articulated heel allows for natural walking when not skating.
Rollkers hopes to have its design ready for licensing by the end of 2015, with commercialization starting next year. Unfortunately we didn't get to try the wheeled soles out at CES, but Paul Chavand's video shows them gliding and maneuvering.