I love walking, but it has drawbacks when I'm in a hurry. Startup Shift Robotics thinks it has a solution to the pesky slowness of walking: powered, wheeled smart shoes called Moonwalkers that vow a 250% increase in your walking speed.
At first glance, you might think they're some form of weird roller skates, but the Pittsburgh-based company insists they're a new product and deserve to be called "the world's fastest shoes." The shoes strap onto your regular footwear like fancy sandals. Each shoe sports a hinged design mean to enable a normal walking motion while eight powered wheels move you forward faster than you could go on your own.
Footage of the Moonwalkers in action makes the shoes look like sci-fi creations. They have a top speed of 7 mph (11 kph), an average range of 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers) and a weight of 4.2 pounds (2 kilograms).
Shift Robotics is funding Moonwalkers on Kickstarter, so the usual caveats apply. Not all crowdfunding projects deliver on time and as expected. The shoes cost a lot more than your standard kicks. The super early adopter price level is $1,099 (£960, AU$1,720). The Kickstarter has already attracted over $288,000, putting it well over its initial $90,000 goal.
The shoes are equipped with software that's meant to adapt to your movements. An electronic brake locks out the wheels when needed, like when going up stairs. The brake is triggered by specific movements of the right foot. An instructional video walks new Moonwalkers through getting started.
Commuters currently have a lot of options for powered devices ranging from skateboards to scooters. If you're into unusual modes of foot-related transportation, Segway's Drift W1 electric skates also fit the bill. Moonwalkers might be an attractive alternative for their small size and portability. There's also a dorky-cool factor to the way they look and move. Will they revolutionize walking? That remains to be seen.