LAS VEGAS -- We’ve seen a lot of random stuff at CES, but one of the things that made me do a double take as I roamed the massive show floor was the Solowheel, an “auto balance one-wheel vehicle.”
Really, it looked more like a tiny unicycle without handles, and I was baffled as to how Solowheel reps were zooming around their booth in circles like human hamsters. The small wheel didn’t even have pedals per se -- just two silver foot rests -- and riders appeared to not be exerting any effort.
Shane Chen, president of Solowheel maker Inventist, said the electric Solowheel, which reaches a max speed of 10 mph, takes about half an hour to learn. The 26-pound wheel can travel up to 10 miles before needing to be plugged into a wall outlet. A full charge takes an hour.
The company says the Solowheel is the smallest, greenest, most convenient “people mover” ever invented. This gyro-stabilized electric device is compact and has gyro-sensors to help riders maintain their balance. Users steer with their feet and control their speed by leaning. Lean forward to speed up, and backward to slow down or stop.
“It doesn’t allow you to fall; it automatically catches you,” Chen said.
We have some doubts, which were heightened when he wouldn’t let me get on the thing.
So far, Inventist has sold 1,500 Solowheels since the product debuted about a year ago. It’s sold online and via the SkyMall catalog for $1,795.
The Washington company recommends riders wear a helmet and be at least 15 years old.