IT & Systems Management

Slide down sidewalks with bizarre grace on a Hovertrax

I'm not convinced that personal sidewalk traversal is ripe for a renovation. Plenty have met success by marketing their new wheeled contraptions as toys or exercise equipment. Yet Inventist is billing its new product almost as a replacement for walking, almost entirely forgoing an appeal to one's sense of fun. The two-wheeled transportation platform, or Hovertrax (funding through June 30), is aimed at carrying the future of small-scale transportation into view.

Think of it like motorized skateboard turned sideways, or a Segway without handlebars. A pair of rigid black foot platforms perch atop an axle, each rotating independent of the other. Wheels about the diameter of grapefruits cap each end, producing a profile that looks like it'd awkwardly fit into the average backpack. With a step onto the pads, a system of gyroscopes and accelerometers briefly wobble the device beneath the user, settling stably underfoot. Counter rotating gestures of the heel and toe or a lean to and fro then rotate and accelerate the Hovertrax and its cargo. In practice, the rider looks rather like someone standing on an airport people mover or a stop-motion video subject sliding at lifelike frame rates.

As demonstrated, the Hovertrax features electric motors capable of ranging four miles on an hour's charge. It can tackle a 15 degree incline with up to 225 pounds, in addition to its own nine pound heft, in tow. Note that the shipping version is intended to have motors with three times the power and slightly larger wheels.

This project has passed its $40,000 funding target, and a fair deal of the success has come via pledges rewarding some of Inventist's other products. $25 earns you a battery charger capable of servicing a range of types of cells, while $100 and $395 will result in a set of sideways single-wheel skates or a water strider kind of machine, respectively. The Hovertrax itself starts at $695, with an expected retail price of $995 and a December delivery.

Confidence level

Inventist was founded by a serial inventor by the name of Shane Chen. He's done the portable wheeled locomotion thing before with his successful Solowheel, seeming at home with this sort of engineering. With past products of his tinkering already selling, this project starter looks solid.


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