People love wheels, and the more unusual, the better. Revel in a rolling world of platforms, seatless bikes and futuristic Rocketskates.
High-end gadget purveyor Hammacher Schlemmer offered up what it calls the "Post Modern Skateboard" in its catalog this year. It has two wheels and no board. The rider's feet go inside the rings and balance is achieved by skating in a serpentine pattern.
There are still new ideas to be dreamed up when moving around on tiny wheels. The WalkCar is a dainty portable platform that you stand on and allow it to roll you around. Just toss it into your backpack when you're done.
The WalkCar is supposed to be headed to Kickstarter later this year, so you'll likely have a shot at getting a wheeled platform of your very own.
The Rocketskates from Acton are both a blast from the past and a message from the future. They fit over your regular shoes and are battery-powered to roll you along at up to 12 mph (19 kph). Despite being expensive, the Rocketskates raised enough money on Kickstarter to go into production.
Personal urban transportation is a puzzle many inventors have tried to sort out, resulting in products like the Segway and the Halfbike II. The Movpak rolled with the idea of combining a backpack and an electric skateboard so the device could be folded up and worn whenever you needed to step on a bus or into an office.
Movpak missed its Kickstarter funding goal by about $40,000, but it's still a fascinating design idea.
Solowheel's Hovertrax personal transporter was a big hit at CES in Las Vegas earlier this year. The two-wheeled gadget is like a marriage between a Segway and a skateboard. A self-balancing feature makes it hard to fall off. It can travel up to 8 miles (about 13 kilometers) on a charge.
Regular bikes are pretty big and bulky contraptions. The Halfbike II manages to add a wheel and still make itself into a pretty dainty device. There's no seat on the Halfbike II. Riders pedal while standing up. It's kind of like a unicycle with training wheels. It successfully raised nearly $1 million in funding on Kickstarter earlier this year.
Unicycles take balance, effort and fine muscle control. Even if you never thought you would try out a unicycle, the electric SBU V3 might change your mind.
The SBU balances itself forward-to-back, but you have to supply your own side-to-side balance. When you get the hang of it, it's a thrill to zip along at over 12 mph (19 kph) on a single wheel.
The old-fashioned roller skate evolved into the Walk Wing, a strap-on overshoe with wheels that drop down at the flip of a switch. When in the up position, the wearer can walk like normal, just with some bulky overshoes on. The Walk Wing is trying to go into production with funds from an Indiegogo campaign.
The Impossible bike seems like a fantasy. It's an electric bike that folds up to a mere 17 inches (43 centimeters) in height with a weight of just 11 pounds (5 kilograms). It has an unusual, spare design sense. On the surface, it's an attractive concept for a packable bike, but there are potential issues with the small wheels and cost.
The Impossible bike might accidentally live up to its name. It attracted a lot of attention and funds on Kickstarter before the project was canceled. The creators promised to relaunch a revamped campaign sometime in 2015, but it has yet to reappear on the crowdfunding site.
Remember Segway? The much-hyped two-wheeled vehicle launched in 2002 with visions of changing the world, but it eventually became the favored ride for private security staff patrolling parking lots.
Segway later launched the three-wheeled SE-3 Patroller in 2014 to give more options to its police and corporate clients. It's still ridden while standing up, like the original Segway.