Rollkers put a motorized moving sidewalk under your feet
Admit it – when you walk on one of those "moving sidewalks" at an airport, you like to pretend that you're easily able to stroll at superhuman speeds. Well, Rollkers are designed to give you that same sensation, as you walk down city streets.
A new version of an older invention, the Rollkers were created by a French startup of the same name. They take the form of roller-skate-like devices that get strapped onto the user's existing shoes.
Instead of simply having wheels on the bottom, however, they have motorized rollers covered in conveyor-belt-like rubber tracks. Because the Rollkers bend in the middle to facilitate normal walking, each one has two tracks – one in the front, and one in the back.
Onboard sensors and other electronics detect the wearer's current walking speed, and respond by activating the motors in order to double that speed … up to a limit of 7 mph (11 km/h). This means that they only "roll" as the user is walking. If the user is just standing still, the Rollkers won't carry them forward.
Additionally, because the sensors can determine where within the stride each Rollker is at all times, the output of the motors is adjusted accordingly, to maintain user stability. They reportedly weigh about 4.5 kg (10 lb) per pair, and should be good for about 30 minutes of use per charge of their lithium-ion batteries.
A representative tells us that the company is currently hoping to license the technology to a third-party manufacturer, which would actually take the Rollkers into production. The estimated retail price is approximately US$700.
You can see some of the Rollkers prototypes in action, in the video below. Potential buyers might also want to check out the successfully Kickstarted Moonwalkers, which offer similar functionality.