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Monday, Aug 15, 2022

Roller Skates Get in Step With Future

If “smart wearable transportation” sounds a bit futuristic, then the future has arrived – in the form of skates.

RocketSkates, a product from Altadena startup Acton, are electric, motorized skates that strap on over your shoes, no remote control needed. Riders adjust speed by tilting their lead foot forward and backward to accelerate and brake, and shift their weight to steer.

They are the brainchild of Janelle Wang and Peter Treadway, who cooked up the project in his garage during graduate school at Art Center College of Design, where he focused on transportation.

“I looked at bikes, which you have to lock up or carry through the turnstile to get on the train or subway,” Treadway said, adding that he wanted to create transportation people could wear all the time that would give them “superhero”-like abilities without getting in their way. The skates’ design puts feet close enough to the ground that it’s easy to stop and walk as needed, like when walking up or down stairs.

Treadway and Wang co-funded the development of the electric skates through a $50,000 Kickstarter campaign that reached its goal in 24 hours.

“It’s pretty mind-blowing,” Treadway said.

Since August, the skates have received more than $550,000 from backers, and they’re headed for the U.S. market early next month.

Acton is developing three models, which will retail from $499 to $699. Each version can reach up to 12 miles per hour, and the top-of-the-line skates can travel 10 miles on a single charge.

An app – you had to know that was coming – linked to the skates allows users to keep in touch with RocketSkaters and can help coordinate team “Geo-Games” such as capture the flag. An available kit also encourages software developers to create their own games and app features.

When Treadway takes his pair for a ride down the Venice boardwalk, he becomes as much of a spectacle as the street performers and artists.

“It’s like driving an exotic car – people see it and they want to know what it is,” he said.

– Cassie Paton


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