The battery powered high-tech footware called ‘spnKiX’ resemble a cross between a ski boot and a roller skate with oversized wheels and are among the gadgets on display at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
A user straps the motorised skates on to their shoes and away they go, gliding smoothly along at speeds of up to 10 miles per hour (16 kilometres per hour).
The futuristic shoes are the brainchild of Peter Treadway, a Los Angeles-based industrial designer.
“I’ve been developing some form of wearable transportation since the 1990s but just in the last, say like eight years, I realised the real necessity for it,” Treadway said. “I was going to lunch one day and couldn’t find a place to park,” he said. “So I thought ‘Why don’t I make something that could get me from home to someplace really close by? It’s just turned into this fun kind of product.”
Treadway said each shoe has a battery and a motor and they are synchronised to work together as ‘sort of mirrors of each other’.
The rechargeable battery allows the wearer to go about two to three miles (three-five kilometres) on a single charge and needs about two to three hours to fully juice up again.
A handheld wireless remote controller smaller than a deck of cards controls the speed of shoes. “It’s very simple,” Treadway said.
Not everyone finds the shoes easy to use at first, however. Training wheels are provided to take the pain out of the learning process.
“To achieve some proficiency could take you anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours,” Treadway said, depending on the individual. Some of the money for the spnKiX was raised on Kickstarter, a website which collects donations for creative projects.
“We didn’t know what we were getting into there,” Treadway said. “We’re past triple the amount that we asked for. Our funding goal was $25,000. We’re now above $80,000. “People are psyched,” he said.
Treadway said the shoes, made by his Los Angeles-based company, Acton Inc, will begin shipping in March and will sell for $649 a pair.
Treadway holds degrees in industrial design, including one from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, but he said his interest in fashion contributed to the development of the motorized shoes.
“I also have a little bit of a fashion background,” he said. “Which is kind of the reason why these ended up being wearable. “I see kind of the way that a shoe designer would see a pair of shoes.”